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Photo of Richard Devylder.

Richard Devylder July 25, 1969 – August 8, 2015

Join us for a
Celebration of Life for Richard Devylder

September 8, 2015
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
California Governor's Office of Emergency Services
3650 Schriever Avenue, MPR 1 and 2
Mather, CA 95655

Please RSVP to gsoltero@westernu.edu

Make a Donation to Richard Devylder's Memorial Fund


You will be missed by future generations of people who have disabilities who could have learned life lessons from you that they couldn’t get from a better person. - Lisa cooley

Thank you Richard for an enjoyable ride. Many fond memories. San Diego? Shhh! A life lived well. - Maeve

Richard; You are an amazing, caring, professional indvidual and your efforts, work and insights will be felt througout the world for years to come. Will always appreciate working with you, your respect for all, your ability to work with everyone, enlighten our world with your keen understanding of people with disabilities and helping everone understand the Whole Communtiy Concept! With gratitude, respect, my prayers and thougths go out to your family. You have made our worlds a better place by your presence, your humor, your stories and your understanding and willingness to work with all of us! Thank you and rest in peace. - Kathryn Gerk

I worked with Richard for many years while he was with CFILC. He always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell. He really helped open up my eyes to what people with disabilites were capable of achieving. He truly was an inspiration and will be greatly missed. - Heidi Grether Corcoran

You will be missed! - Billie Alexander

Unfortunately we will never really know the cause Richards death. As a friend said we were far from done with him! So the magical thinking part of me fantasizes that we are having a bad dream, and hes playing one of his tricks on us, so I wish I could give him one massive head butt to pop one of those well-chewed pens out of his month and bring him back. It has only been a short time since he died and Im struck by how intertwined our work and lives were, even thou sometimes we would go for a week or two without talking. We mentored each other. I know of no other Californian who shared the passion for emergency issues while simultaneously overlaying civil rights and independent living filters and values. He was my friend, colleague, co-conspirator, playmate, torturer, stealer of my slide decks, exercise coach, in your face advocate, and many other roles that no one else will ever fill. He selectively shared pieces of his life with many of us and if we pieced them all together it would be a great mosaic of a life well lived with a great and meaningful legacy. I will not deitize Richard as he we love that and I would hate it! So my friend, all I can say is this reality sucks! And if you are watching from somewhere keep sending your guidance and per usual sometimes we will listen. - June Kailes

I had the honor of serving as Co Student Mgrs of WCHS Basketball team for two seasons, and he never let his disability keep him from keeping stats during practice. He had a wonderful appreciation for life, and a great sense of humor! Today he is "Walking" with Jesus Christ! - Jeff Martin

I had the pleasure of working with Richard at Cal State Long Beach many years ago. Richard was the guy that always brought a smile to your face. He never complained and he never made excuses - he was a champion for people with disabilities. Goodbye my Armenian friend! - ET

I will miss his friendly personality, always upbeat and telling stories with such humor. Richard was one of my bosses when I worked at DOR Independent Living Section, and he always new how to solve a dilema, and make it happen. After I retired we continued to be in touch occasionally. I loved to hear him tell stories about his niece Bella. I will truly miss his friendship. I know there is a very special place in heaven for him. - Lauri Dickinson

Rest in peace. - Grace Manibog

Richard was a true inspiration for the community that lived with a disability or not. He smiled wherever he went. An incredible person you never get tired of hearing. You will always be remembered and loved by everyone! God bless you for existing and now you will be smiling from heaven! - Judy Gonzalez

My daughter went to school with Richard. I remember seeing him every morning with a big smile on his way into junior high. He was a blessing. - Dee Cannon

Richard and I went to high school together. He was a statistician in basketball and I was fortunate enough to share a room with him during a tournament at Westmont College. I remember running into him at CSULB during our college years. He was wonderful and I really loved his personality and zeal for life! What a true example of what it means to be made in the image of Christ. Joan, your son will be sorely missed! - Brett Molter

I remember Richard quite well having sat next to him over the years at Lakers games. He left an enduring impact on me and challenged assumptions by how he lived his life. I'm grateful to have known him. He will always inspire me. - JORDAN T. PERZIK

Richard will be missed by the these whom he mentored in the disabled community. He showed us--by his own Marcella example--how to be a leader. - Kyla Aquino Irving

He will be missed by many. rest in Peace! - Susan Chandler

To Richard's Family, I was very happy to have attended a few workshops that Richard had conducted. His talks gave me deeper insight to what it is like to live with a disability from birth. All of the family should be very proud, for raising a man who will always be remembered for the work he has done for so many people. - Lorraine Rosenblatt

Links about Richard

LA Times Obituary for Richard Devylder:

Richard Devylder "In Loving Memory & Honor" Facebook Group:

20th Anniversary of the ADA (Video)

White House Summer Job Series (Video)

A Day in the Life of Richard Devylder (Video)


Applause for a life well-lived, a life that was meaningful to the people around him, and a life that increased access, equality and independence for people with and without disabilities throughout the nation. 

Disability Leader Richard A. Devylder, age 46, of Long Beach, California passed away at home on Saturday August 8, 2015. Born on July 25, 1969, at birth he weighed just five pounds and was only twelve inches long, yet he grew to be a giant in the Disability Rights Movement.  Richard had neither arms nor legs, but no one would think to feel sorry for him, because he never felt sorry for himself.

Richard recently retired and was happy to be traveling and enjoying life. You knew Richard was happy to see you by the “head butt” he used as a sign of affection. He was known for his “take no prisoners” style of communication, for not having silverware in his home because in his opinion there was no need for it, a wicked sense of humor, his love for the beach (he was recently heard saying that it can rain everywhere else, but not on the beach), swimming, desserts, diet Pepsi, sports and the Los Angeles Lakers! In fact he died with three baseball games playing on his wide-screen TV.

Richard was a graduate of California State University Long Beach, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in communications. Richard had a passion for emergency preparedness and was a nationally respected leader.  He took his career on a groundbreaking path.  His work in emergency management and disability rights has had a sweeping impact in the field and in the lives of millions of people who are safer and more prepared due to Richard’s steadfast vision and leadership.

“We need to move past looking at people with disabilities as medical, and stop looking at needs as something special.”

Richard made significant impacts in developing accessible emergency planning, response and recovery initiatives in California in his role the Director of the Office of Access and Functional Need, within the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Prior to this Richard served in the role of Special Advisor to the Director, and then Special Advisor to the Secretary of California’s Emergency Management Agency.

In July 2010, President Obama appointed Richard as the U.S. Department of Transportation's first Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation. He advised the agency's efforts to develop and execute effective policy strategies to ensure all modes of transportation were accessible and integrated to meet the access and functional needs of people with disabilities and the general public.  As Richard states in this video celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ADA.

“I always say the number on thing that can make us independent to the fullest is transportation, if we can’t get there we can’t go to school we can’t go to work and we can’t live independently.”

As a Deputy Director at the California Department of Rehabilitation, Richard had oversight of 29 Independent Living Centers and Assistive Technology Services. Richard loved children, he had an uncanny way of connecting with kids. He cared deeply about the future of youth with disabilities, and he prioritized them in his work while at the Department of Rehabilitation by participating in and supporting the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities. Richard was instrumental in keeping the program from being cut.  While Richard often mentored youth on Disability Mentoring Day, he was a lifelong mentor to many.

Richard began his career in the Independent Living Movement as an intern and then Peer Counselor and eventually Program Director at the Southern California Rehabilitation Services in Downey, (Whitehouse Summer Job Series), it did not take long for Richard to follow his instincts for leadership, he held several positions at California State University Long Beach and then was named Executive Director of the Independent Living Center in Orange County, the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC).   He was appointed to the State Independent Living Council and elected as Chair shortly after his tenure at DMC.

Richard was a role model for people with disabilities and the general public, but he understood that people had a hard time understanding how someone with no limbs could live, work and play independently. To educate people Richard made an 11 minute video called “A Day in the Life of Richard Devylder”  which revealed how Richard used a variety of assistive technologies and personal care assistance to lead a very independent and meaningful life. But the impact he had on people’s lives could never be adequately displayed on a computer screen.

Richard is survived by his mother, Joan Devylder,  his sister’s  Cheryl Devylder, Sharon Taylor, nine nieces, five great nieces, four great nephews and a multitude of friends and admirers. Services honoring his life will be held on Friday, August 14th, at Chapels of Memories, 12626 Woods Avenue in Norwalk. The service will be at noon and a viewing will be held from 10am - 12pm. A graveside burial will follow the service at Little Lakes Cemetery at 2pm.  

 Honoring a life well-lived…

Contributions can be made online to the Richard A. Devylder Memorial Fund or via regular post, checks can be addressed to CFILC and mailed to: CFILC-Richard Devylder Memorial Fund, 1000 G Street, Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95814