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Kenneth Joseph Ervin died unexpectedly in his sleep on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, in Morgantown. Ken was born in Buckhannon, WV, on January 7, 1962, the son of Velta Hibbs Carpenter and the late Willard Ervin. Ken was a graduate of Buckhannon High School, had a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, a Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Master's level course work in Special Education from West Virginia University.
Ken was the lead advocate for the Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living in Morgantown for more than ten years. He was a founder and state organizer for ADAPT WV and the Mountain State Direct Action Center. Ken served on the Olmstead Task Force, and dedicated his life to educating the public and policymakers that people with disabilities have the right to the appropriate supports that enable them to live in their own homes and communities.
He also served on the Consumer Advisory Committee for the Center for Excellence in Disabilities at West Virginia University where he reported on consumer advocacy issues. He was a longtime member of the West Virginia Fair Shake Network, a member of the Olmstead Advisory Committee and the West Virginia ADA Coalition and provided service to many other state and national organizations.
Ken Ervin was a totally committed disability rights advocate. He worked 24/7 to protect and honor the rights of people with disabilities. Governor Manchin said that, "Ken was the most passionate person I ever met." Whether Ken was chaining himself to the fence of the White House in Washington, D.C., to a school flagpole in Monongalia County or helping someone move out of a nursing home, his commitment was beyond rhetoric - he lived what he believed.
Ken's last written words were for an essay in honor of West Virginia's Disability History Week, October 15-19. On Friday afternoon, October 12, he wrote: "Much can be done when we raise our voices and join together. We cannot simply stand by and wait for someone else to take action. We must make our own history."
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mountain State Direct Action Center, Mountain State Direct Action Center, 502 S. Court St., Lewisburg, WV 24901 to continue Ken's work. Donations may also be directly made to his son's trust at the Northern WV Center for Independent Living at 601-3 East Brockway Avenue, Suites A&B, Morgantown, WV 26505.
WV has lost a true advocate - Ken's commitment was beyond rhetoric - he lived what he believed.
If you would like to share a memory or story about Ken, please email Mountain State Centers for Independent Living and we will include your story on Ken's memory page.