Roy always loved hunting, but saw there was no practical way for the handicapped…
Michael Roy of Bessemer, an avid outdoorsman and pioneer of rights for the disabled, passed away on April 12 while on safari in Africa at the age of 60.
The trip was a gift from the Safari Club International, which presented him with their prestigious Pathfinder Award for his work to pursue the sport of hunting in the face of overwhelming odds.
He was confined to a wheelchair after a battle with polio at age seven.
Nevertheless, he earned an accounting degree from the University of Alabama, learned to fly a Cessna, and retired as an accountant from Bessemer State Technical College in 2001.
Throughout his life, he worked for the rights of the disabled. Over the last 25 years, he had served as a board member and president of the Alabama Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, organizing political lobbies and protests and fighting for legislation that would improve the lives of the disabled. “We did whatever it took to make things better,” he said in an earlier interview with The Western Star.
Roy always loved hunting, but saw there was no practical way for the handicapped to enjoy it. So he and John Ramsey, who had recently been paralyzed from an 11-foot fall from a tree stand while deer hunting, co-founded Disabled Sportsmen of Alabama, a group that organized hunts for handicapped hunters, taking them to various hunting hot spots around the Southeast.
Established about 10 years ago, the group is still going strong with about 35 members. There was not a more fitting reward for his work for others than for his dying wish to come true—hunting wild game in Namibia.
Beginning the hunt early in April, Roy had already taken seven trophy animals when he told friends that he wasn’t feeling well and would be sleeping in. When his wife, Judy, came back to the room later that morning, he was dead.
He had had a tough year in 2002 with chronic health problems stemming from a reappearance of esophageal cancer that was first discovered back in 1996.
He died peacefully while doing what he loved. Although he suffered greatly with illness, he managed to touch the lives of a great many people.
A man who will be greatly missed, Michael Roy led a full life indeed.