Skip to comments.ADA activist, wildlife photo enthusiast dies at 65
Posted on 06/04/2011 12:44:00 AM PDT by jsh3180
A local photographer and litigious advocate for handicap accessibility in the Florida Keys died Monday at the age of 65.
Michelle Wisniewski was an ardent and often unpopular activist for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and sued or threatened to sue more than 20 local businesses and the city of Key West over handicap accessibility issues.
She was president for five years of the Florida-based Association for Disabled Americans, which boasts 441 civil lawsuits filed seeking compliance with the ADA, according to the association's May 2010 newsletter.
It is unclear whether the association will follow through with any pending litigation.
Wisniewski was a wheelchair-bound transsexual who succeeded in gaining handicap accessibility to most Duval Street restaurants, according to the association's newsletter, which named her as an Unsung Hero.
"The original impetus was just to get into places they wanted to visit. But they've gone further than that," the newsletter states in an article about Wisniewski and association Vice President Danny Ruiz. "After realizing what they were able to accomplish, they've come to understand that others will not take on the accusations and impositions required by the litigation. They knew that they would be creating access not for just themselves but for thousands of tourists and other residents of the South Florida area."
Prior to her health problems, which were compounded by emphysema that forced her to use an oxygen tube, Wisniewski was a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who earned the Bronze Star, the Air Medal for Valor, the Gallantry Cross and the Combat Infantry Parachute badge, according to the obituary received by The Citizen.
Wisniewski graduated from Georgetown University and later earned a medical degree in Guadalajara, Mexico. She worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist.
In the Florida Keys, Wisniewski was an active member of the Audubon Society, and was well-known for her bird and wildlife photography.
She is survived by two children. A memorial took place Wednesday at Bahia Honda State Park.
This is political correctness and does not serve the truth.
You forgot tree hugger—crazy wacky stuff!
Don’t leave out “gynecologist.”
Yikes! Sounds a little messed up.
I hope the Savior was somewhere in that picture.
it was all about the $$$
You hate to say it about anyone, but I’ll bet nobody isn’t glad He/She is gone. Sounds like a bitter confused, mentally ill miscreant that tried to make everybody else miserable too.
Don't smell right.
Maybe it’s the smell of too much napalm in the morning...
This war’s gonna end one day...
Not bitter, but perhaps selfish: He made ADA demands of local "scraping-by" restaurants, which contributed to his unpopularity.
The camera was sturdily mounted on his wheelchair: the object of his photography was primarily Florida butterflies, a subject in which he was expert. He had loyal friends, all of whom were Liberals: one friend moved from the Keys last month. That friend demonstrated every Saturday against the Iraq War. (But only while Bush was President).
One can suspect that all the medications, the van, the oxygen, the motorized wheelchair, and the operation itselfwere charged to the VA. I can't recall if he ever spoke of his service.
"Many of our members knew Dr. Michelle Wisniewskis masterful butterfly photography, which is featured in our traveling national park exhibit, Butterflies of South Florida. Michelle generously shared her photographic images with us, to use as we wished, and supported chapter projects and events faithfully despite a long drive from Cudjoe Key. On her home territory in the lower Keys, she knew all the places off the beaten path to look for butterflies, and somehow maneuvered herself in her electric wheelchair, cameras and lenses mounted on the vehicle and at the ready.
Michelles butterfly, bird and other nature images have been exhibited widely in the Florida Keys and can be seen, along with a brief biography, at
A retired physician, Michelle was also front and center of efforts to implement provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Florida Keys, serving as President of the Association for Disabled Americans for five years before her death.
Michelle died on Memorial Day 2011, fitting for someone as memorable as she will be."
Yep. The chromosomes don’t change. I feel like Annie Wilkes. “Do you all have amNEsia? He was a guy when he went into the clinic!”