Longtime community activist Kenneth D. Tice passed away Oct. 18 He was 59. Tice was a well-know disability rights activist and was a fixture at the Minnesota state capitol, especially during legislative sessions. For more than two decades, he worked on a number of state task forces and committees, and worked on numerous law and policy changes.
Tice had worked with Advocating Change Together (ACT) since 1983. For many years he was known as the organization’s “voice at the capitol.” He worked tireless hours with legislators to represent fellow handicapped citizens giving them the rights and benefits enjoyed by other workers. In recent years he was known for coming into the ACT offices to visit with colleagues and keep people on track.
Tice had many interests, including a love of pet birds.
He was honored in 1988 as one of the Twin Citians of the Year by what is now Arc of Minnesota. In a 1988 Star Tribune profile, he talked frankly about his struggles as a child. “When I was in grade school, I couldn’t keep up with the kids,” he said. “In the sixth grade, I did third-grade work. But I passed. I never went to college, but I graduated from North High School, class of ’70.”
Tice emphasized the value of work in the article, describing how he held a series of part-time jobs. He ultimately wound up working in a sheltered workshop stacking telephone jacks on a tray for $40 to $50 a week.
“They treated me like a baby,” he told the newspaper. “They told me they didn’t want me to talk so much. I kind of like to talk. And they said they would have to segregate me and watch me if I kept talking. I told them I didn’t want to be treated like a baby. And so I quit.”
Not long after that Tice met Mel Duncan, who told him how people with disabilities could become their own advocates and lobby their causes like any other group. That launched his career as a self-advocate and an activist.
One of Tice’s key issues was the limits on what people with disabilities can earn and not risk losing SSI. He believed that was another barrier to people with disabilities being able to live independently. He told the Star Tribune, “In the future,” he said, “we want to try to eliminate all of the disincentives to work people with disabilities have. We shouldn’t have to lose all that money. We can’t live without it.”
Tice also worked tirelessly to set up checks and balances so that employees at sheltered workshops were treated fairly and paid a better wage. Workers now have grievance processes, paid sick leave and vacation time, thanks to his efforts.
The 1988 article described Tice as “probably the only registered lobbyist in the state of Minnesota—maybe even the whole country—who never buys lunch for the politicians he lobbies. Instead, they buy lunch for him.” His straightforward style of lobbying was described, as was his focus on trying to stay positive even during very trying hearings. He never forgot a person’s name or face.
Tice also lobbied for disability rights at the nation’s capitol.
Tice is survived by his mother Marlys, cousins and many dear friends, Services were held at King of Grace Lutheran Church Golden Valley, with interment at Crystal Lake Cemetery.
Kate Stahl: career activist
Kate Stahl, a well-known senior citizen activist, passed away Oct. 24. The Shoreview resident was 91.
Her career as an activist was launched when she was in her 70s, when she and her husband could not afford his prescription drugs. She got on a bus to Canada—one of the first to head north to bring back cheaper prescription drugs, a violation of federal law. After that, she became a dedicated activist, left-wing radical and the sweet, grandmotherly face on a successful national campaign for better pricing of prescription drugs for the elderly.
In a 2004 New York Times Sunday Magazine story titled “Grumpy Old Drug Smugglers,” she said that up until that time “I wouldn’t have said boo to a turtle, literally.’’
“She had a fire in her belly and a twinkle in her eye,” Peter Wyckoff, a former officer of the now defunct Minnesota Senior Federation, told the Star Tribune. Stahl became a MSF volunteer. After her husband’s death in 1998, her involvement intensified and the bus trips became a regular, gleeful act of civil disobedience. She also served a term as Metropolitan Senior Federation president.
Former Minnesota Congressman Gil Gutknecht saw her potential as a political asset and invited her to Washington for a news conference announcing his sponsorship of a bill to legalize drug re-importation. She went back to the nation’s capitol several times as a senior lobbyist. One day after testifying before a congressional committee, a legislator said to her, “Unfortunately, I don’t think we can fix this in your lifetime.” She turned on a dime, and said, ‘The way Congress works, this won’t be fixed in your lifetime.’”
Stahl served a two-year stint as president of the Metropolitan Senior Federation.
In 2003, Gov. Tim Pawlenty launched the nation’s first state-sponsored program to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. Then, in 2006, a new Medicare drug benefit was implemented for seniors. So the trips north stopped but Stahl continued to lobby for senior citizens’ rights and issues. She had a strong dislike of age-ism and would give presentations on the joys of being an old woman.
“For me, the joy of being an old woman is a decision that I make every day,” Stahl said at the time.
She is survived by three daughters; nine grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.