Dawn DeRose

May 27, 1966 - August 20, 2023

Dawn Marie DeRose, 57, died peacefully on Sunday August 20, 2023 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit from a massive stroke, with her mother and her significant other of 19 years at her side.

From the age of four, she was diagnosed with an eye disease, leaving her visually impaired, with little vision in her right eye and counting fingers vision with color perception in her left, sending her to first grade in a partially seeing class. Dawn loved to learn and progressed to second grade where Braille class began. Her teacher said she had never seen anyone learn Braille as fast as Dawn had – all in one week’s time! The Uveitis, Secondary Glaucoma and cataracts resulted in over 60 eye surgeries, (we stopped counting additional ones after 60). After her cataracts were removed, she was able to return to regular classes. However, in high school she probably needed special ed again, did not get it, but managed to graduate with honors anyway! Learning to use a computer is difficult, but being blind was an added burden, but not for Dawn – she became very proficient. Her next obstacle was mobility. Visually Impaired Services at Detroit Receiving Hospital taught her how to use the white cane, which was liberating  for her, and allowed her to go anywhere without help.

Dawn was a caring and giving person. She began working as a caregiver for an elderly couple in Grosse Pointe Woods, nurturing them both until they died, very close to reaching 100 years old. After her stepfather suffered a massive stroke in 1998, she was his caregiver during the day while her mother worked, until he died in 2000. Most amazing thing was Al was 5 foot 10 weighing 250 pounds, Dawn was 5 foot 1 weighing 120 pounds, but she was able to transfer him from bed to wheelchair to kitchen table or to the bathroom!

She met some new friends who were also blind in early 2000. These friends were in a club that taught them to downhill ski. Game on – Dawn soon mastered skiing and was so good a chairlift operator at Alpine Valley stopped the lift to tell her “You’re the best skier out here tonight!” In the summer, these same friends rode tandem bikes. Sitting on the back “stoker” seat her job was to peddle while the front seat “captain” steered the bike. Twice she made the trip from Royal Oak to Niagara Falls, and camping out for 4 nights was an added treat for her.

Dawn started taking classes at Wayne State University one at a time, paying for them herself. Realizing  she could handle returning to school after being away so long, she enrolled full time and got financial assistance from the Commission for the Blind.

College opened her eyes to her surrounding social environment and some of the injustices. She became an activist for people. She supported: Detroit Eviction Defense which helps people who are unjustly being evicted from their homes; We the People of Detroit who are fighting water shut-offs and delivering water to people who already had their water shut off; Moratorium Now fighting foreclosure, evictions and utility shutoffs and National Action Network who works to hold leaders and decision-makers accountable for their actions.

As a typical college student she switched her major from Teacher to Social Worker. In 2011 she earned her Bachelor of Social Work Degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude! In addition to tutoring people how to read at the Detroit Public Library, and students at the Fairbanks Elementary school, she worked as a substitute teacher at Visually Impaired Services. She taught newly blind adults how to use the computer and to read Braille. The students loved her.

Dawn was a member of Victoria Chapter #290, Order of the Eastern Star. She joined Tyrian Chapter #469 in 2005, but took a demit for 6 years before rejoining in 2011. She has been a member of the order for a total of 27 years and has held offices of all five star points and Marshal.

Speaking of love, Dawn’s sister adds “To a sweet sister that has always taken care of others. We’ve had our differences. We’d voice our opinions and we didn’t talk for a while. We then worked it out. She loved to be doing something all the time, skiing, biking and everything else she did. I loved her so much. I hope she can be happy. I know she will be watching over us.”

Dawn is survived by her mother Lorraine Demchak; sisters Deborah Lyons and Denise Rainford; nieces Crystal Lyons, Shelby, Allison and Linda Rainford; grandnieces Emily and Elizabeth Furtrell; grandnephew Charles Lyons; significant other James Przybylo and many close friends.

Visitation for Dawn will be held on Tuesday, August 29th, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of her OES and Funeral Service at 1:00 p.m. at McCabe Funeral Home, 31950 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills. A committal service will follow at 3:00 p.m. in Acacia Park Cemetery, Beverly Hills. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Dawn's name can be made to Seedlings Braille Books for Children, PBS Detroit Channel 56WDET Detroit National Public Radio, We the People of Detroit, National Action NetworkDetroit Eviction DefenseMoratorium NOW! Coalition

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