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Remembering longtime advocate and friend, Duane Schielke

Posted on September 3, 2021

On August 31, the world lost a tireless advocate for people with disabilities when our friend and colleague Duane Schielke passed away unexpectedly.

Duane was a selfless man and truly lived his life in the service of others. Following duty as an Army Field Artillery Section Chief in South Vietnam in 1973, he began working as a direct care counselor in a residence for people with disabilities while studying rehabilitation therapy and psychology at SUNY Buffalo. Duane then worked his way up to the position of Executive Director of the organization that would come to be known as Aspire of Western New York.

After a long and storied career at Aspire, Duane became the Executive Vice President, Chief of Development and Quality Management of CP of NYS, overseeing the growth of programs, services and new facilities, quality management activities, staff development and training, community support services and volunteer services.

Duane devoted his entire professional life to promoting and encouraging individuals with disabilities to live the most fulfilled and productive lives possible. He served on numerous government task forces, councils and commissions of the NYS Department of Health, Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and OPWDD. Commendations include CP of NYS’s Daniel Wieder Award for Professional Leadership (1995), and the Inaugural Niagara County Community College Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988. He is the co-author of “The Triple Stress Jeopardy of Agent Orange Class Members” in The Legacy of Vietnam and Their Families, Survivors of War: Catalysts for Change, 1995.

“Duane was unique in so many ways, always pushing himself and others to reinvent disability supports and services,” said Mike Alvaro, Executive Director of CP of NYS. “His vision and efforts were far reaching, improving the lives of so many people in the state. His passion, his insights, and his smile will be missed by all who had the honor of knowing him.”

“The I/DD community has lost a true champion in Duane Schielke,” said Susan Constantino, President and CEO of CP of NYS. “No matter what area of the disabilities field, Duane would always be there to get the job done. He was a valued member of my team, a true advocate, and a dear friend. Life without Duane will certainly be different, and he will be missed.”

Services will be held at: Sherri Bream, Funeral Home, 4521 Main Street, Gasport, New York 14067

The wake will take place Thursday, Sept. 9, 4-7 p.m.  The funeral will be Friday, Sept 10, 1 p.m. with a reception immediately following.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Duane’s memory to:

United Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS

40 Rector St., 15th Floor

New York, NY 10006

There will be a memorial service for Duane at the end of September, date, time and location to be determined.