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Great Onelies in Real Time: Dr. Trudy Steuernagel February 4, 2009

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time.
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Onely salutes Dr. Gertrude Steuernagel, a beloved and progressive women’s studies and political science professor at Kent State in Ohio. Steuernagel is an accomplished and outspoken and feminist and autism advocate. As she raised her adored son Sky, who is autistic, she also found time to make an impact in both the women’s movement and in mental health advocacy–all while Onely.

Trudy Steuernagel (NewsChannel 5, via msnbc)

Tragically, last week Steuernagel was severely beaten by Sky.  Autism does not/not cause violence in and of itself, but the resulting sensory overload and frustration of not being able to communicate can cause sufferers to lash out, and Sky had other neurological challenges as well that may have contributed to the assault. He didn’t know what he was doing.  Steuernagel knew the challenges associated with caring for Sky, but she also knew the joys, as she describes in this amazing essay. She is truly a Great Onely, and we send our strongest well-wishes out to her numerous family and friends.


P.S. Kudos to fox8 news. Of almost an entire page of news stories on Google a couple days after the incident, their story was the only one that mentioned the Sky’s autism.  The other articles, by their passive omission of this fact, allowed Sky to be portrayed as a crazed mother-beating criminal instead of a sweet boy with brain dysfunctions. That is irresponsible journalism at best, and immoral journalism at worst.  Granted, the fox8 news article doesn’t caveat their mention of autism with “this is not necessarily the whole cause of the incident,” which would have been nice, in order to avoid giving the impression of all autistic people as violent–but it’s still better than not mentioning it at all.


1. Jonathan - February 7, 2009

Trudy truly was amazing – not enough can be said about her.

Kudos should also be given to the reporting done by the Kent Stater and Kentnewsnet.com … while major news venues failed to report holistically on the incident, this college news outlet got the full story and got it early.

2. onely - February 7, 2009

Thanks Jonathan–Good for Kent State’s news outlets.

Although Trudy passed on yesterday, her legacy lives on in the students who admired her, in all the work she did for the autism and feminist communities, and of course in the memories of her family and friends.

3. Utpalvarna Gautam - February 13, 2009

My sympathies to Trudy’s family and friends.
Although I never came in contact with Trudy,I am a kent state student and deeply morn the loss of a wonderful person. She was truly an asset to Kent State.

4. Susan Mann Hirsch - February 15, 2009

I had the priviledge of knowing Trudy during our days at IUP (where we both earned our bachelor degress). Trudy always marched to her own drummer. We were friends during the 60s and I can’t help but think that we influenced each other. Trudy helped me set up some volunteering experiences for sp.ed. majors (from IUP) at Ebensburg State Hosp. (where her Dad was employed). I worked for Eugene McCarthy and was quite active in the Anti-War Movement and I got Trudy involved. I watched this extremely intelligent young woman from the quiet town of Ebensburg,PA blossom into a free-thinking intellectual. It saddens me to know that her life was cut short; but we must remember all that she accomplished while on this earth. Someonehow our paths took very separate directions and we lost contact with each other (but I always wondered and thought about my old friend and hoped that she was happy).
You dear friend will live on in all the amazing things you accomplished.

onely - February 15, 2009

Thanks Susan! Interesting to imagine her back in college, as she was just getting started on her activism. That must have been a fascinating time–thanks for taking time to comment on it. = ) –CC

5. Melanie Barton - March 26, 2009

I am a former student of Trudy’s at Kent State. I took every class I could with her (Women and Politics, Intro to Political Theory, etc.) and she was an incredible role model and mentor to me. She helped with my senior honors thesis, wrote countless letters of reference for grad school, and I’m now a professor. I based many of my classroom methods on her approach. As a mother of a child with neurological issues, I understand some of what she went through, but no one can really understand it unless you’re living the specific, individual experience with each child with issues. I wish I’d kept in touch with Trudy over the years (I graduated in 1992) and am deeply saddened by the loss of this amazing woman, academic, and mother.

onely - March 26, 2009

Melanie, She seems to have impacted so many lives, it’s amazing. I think even though you lost touch with her, sharing a profession has probably kept you close in a way. Thanks for sharing your comment!

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