On this page we will feature the personal profiles of some of our members. Each member profile includes a short personal history
along with the member's hobbies, interests, and accomplishments. If you have any questions for the featured member regarding
the information provided, or their polio experience, use their e-mail address to send them a short note.
Previous Profiles - Scroll Down to View:
Rick Van Der Linden
Mary Lee Poremba
Dr. Bill Greer
|Dr. Bill Greer
William H. Grier, M.D.
University of Michigan, Undergraduate and Medical School
Menninger Clinic, Psychiatric Training
I contracted polio while serving in the United States Army, while stationed in Japan. I was initially treated at the Tokyo
Army Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital
I now have residual paralysis of all muscles below the knee on the left; paralysis of the hamstrings and glutei, and partial
paralysis of the iliopsoas, all on the left.
For the past 10 or 15 years I have experienced symptoms of post-polio syndrome.
My professional activities have focused on academic and clinical psychiatry.
I have authored two books, "Black Rage", and "The Jesus Bag".
These days my primary interests are public policy and human rights.
Click Here to Contact Doctor Bill
Sue Peeters - President of the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors
I was born in San Francisco, California in 1950 and lived there until my father was called back into the Air Force during
the Korean War. My mother and I went to stay with her family in Texas until my dad would return from the war. In 1952, I
contracted encephalitic type of polio. I was paralyzed from my neck down, with the exception of my left arm and hand. I
had the Sister Kenny treatments at that time. With therapy, I regained my ability to walk with a brace on my left leg. At
5 years of age, I entered Shriner's Hospital in San Francisco and started my first experience with being taken from my parents
in order to get the surgery I needed. From 1955 through 1965, I was in Shriner's Hospital five times and had 8 surgeries
total. I got rid of my brace on my left leg after one of my surgeries when I was 10 years old and did not have to wear a
brace again......until now. I went to public school and pretty much had an active childhood; running, riding a bicycle,
climbing trees, etc.). I started working in high school part time as an office assistant. When I graduated from high school,
I worked as a secretary for about 9 months until I decided to get married and move down to Southern California. I then got
a job at Lily Tulip Cup Co. as an accounting secretary for 4 years. During that time I had my daughter, Shelley. I then
became a Purchasing Assistant for about 16 years and was promoted to Senior Buyer. After working 26 years at that company,
I was laid off due to the plant shutting down. I then moved back up here in 1997 and got a job as a contract and pricing
administrator for xpedx, a Div. of International Paper.
I enjoy my grandchildren (Jason, 11, Andrew, 6, and Sarah, 3), traveling when I can, old movies and spending time with
friends, and being involved with my church. With PPS, I have had to limit myself with most physical activities that I used
Accomplishments I would like to brag about:
I have worked since I have been 17 years old, raised my daughter as a single parent most of her life, taken care of a
home, and have been involved with my grandchildren's lives. I have taken the responsibility of becoming the president of
the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors this year and am very excited about contributing everything I can to grow our group
and expand our resources to many people who are in need of help and information.
I was born in El Paso, Texas and later moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when I was 2. Came to California when I was 16. Been
here ever since.
My current or past professions are: Computer Trainer, Artist, Commercial Artist, College Instructor, actress, and last
but not least, daughter, mom and now grandma.
I attended La Puente High School, graduated in 1959. Went to University of Calif. at Riverside CA. Got my MBA in Information
Systems from Golden Gate University while they still had satellite campus at George Air Force Base in Victorville CA. after
my two daughters had started college.
Age when contracting polio: I was one of the 1952 epidemic kids. I had just turned 12; a really bad time was had by all.
Once they figured out what it was, with a spinal tap, (a horrific procedure!), I was quarantined at home for 2 weeks then
shipped off to Carrie Tinley Crippled Children's Hospital in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Where I remained for at least
50 lifetimes...or so it seemed. I think it was actually 4 or 5 months. Like so many I don't really recall and my Mom and Dad
are dead, so they cannot refresh my memory. I think I recall several things about CTCCH; I had to stay in the hall for 2 weeks,
because there were no rooms available the epidemic was so severe; The smell of the wool blankets they autoclaved and wrapped
me in with plastic on the outside; The pt who did too much touching after I came out of the "hot tub" to be exercised.
I was totally at his mercy and very upset by his touching, and no one listened to me when I complained about him and said
I did not want him to exercise me; On a lighter note, the wooden wheelchair races down the cobble stone hallways (noisy) until
we would get caught and sent back to our wing, and they had barber chairs, we would quietly roll over to that section at night,
pull ourselves out of our wheelchairs, get into the barber chairs and turn around and around until we got dizzy.
Brief medical description (what is affected by polio): My back has a severe s curve, my abdomen from arm pits down affected
can't balance or lift things that take stomach and back muscles, pelvic area is tilted causing problems when I sit or stand,
both upper legs, had operation on left foot to correct drop foot, but it did not work. No other surgeries, Thank God. Too
many horror stories of surgeries gone wrong, my one also went wrong. The muscle transplant pulled loose and attached to my
skin so it never did pull the drop foot up. The fusion in the foot has been torn several times from falls and stuff dropped
on the foot. Last time it happened the big toe was broken, and all I did was have my feet slip out from under me as I tried
to stand up at the foot of my bed!! There was so much pressure on the left foot as it twisted that it tore the tendon loose
on the big toe.
Currently the PPS has affected all the muscles and joints, weakened them and caused constant pain. (No more arm wrestling
for me!) The motorized wheelchair is good and bad, I can actually get around again, go to a movie or the beach, but my left
hip hurts all the time and both feet swell.
I have also noticed that in last year my eyes have "floaters" and blur if I use this device (computer) more
than an hour at a time. There are other developments and just know they are not fun and sometimes very frustrating to an individual
who has tried to take care of herself and her family all her life.
I draw, act, teach, wheelchair dance, and would like to try getting some mild exercise in the heated pool here at the
senior complex where I live.
Accomplishments you'd like to brag about: Thinking in a positive manner most of my life; Educating myself to the Master's
level; Having and raising two children by myself, to be loving, successful, intelligent, educated adults; My four grand kids,
Ryan, Joshua, Jillian, and Eric; Becoming an advocate for Access and Independent life for wheelchair users and other disabled
individuals. And through Rheumatic Fever, Chorea, Polio and Cancer staying alive to continue the fight whatever it may be,
and some days that IS definitely something to brag about!
Click Here to Send a Note to Elizabeth
I was born at home in Twin Falls, Idaho in 1926. In early 1928 I was very sick. The doctor who delivered me said I should
be treated for rickets and placed in a cast. The only other doctor our family used in this town said that I was suffering
from Plebe's disease. To resolve the issues my father took me by train to Shrine Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah where he
received a different diagnosis. This continued on to the Shrine Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., the Shrine Hospital in San
Francisco, Calif. and the Shrine Hospital in Portland, Ore. In each location I received a different diagnosis. As far as my
family knows, none of the diagnoses were polio. I was placed in a plaster cast from my waist to my right ankle. It was changed
once a month for six months. I was trained by my mother to crawl, walk and by five I was scooting a wagon, playing on merry-go-rounds,
teeter-totters etc. I fell off a teeter totter and broke my right arm in the first grade.
Up to that time I spent a lot of the winter time in bed with a sheet over my head and a tincture of benzoine steamer.
I fought pneumonia, whooping cough and influenza every winter. Our family doctor recommended that we spend the summers up
at altitudes higher than 7000 feet for me to develop and improve my pulmonary function. So the family built a summer home
13 miles up Warm Springs Creek out of Ketchum, Idaho. (This was before Sun Valley existed). There were other kids who lived
within 4 to 5 miles of us and we got together and played, and did chores like chopping wood, hauling out ashes, refueling
the kerosene lamps, trimming wicks, cleaning the lamp chimneys, no running water (except the stream at the back door), no
telephone, no electricity and a privy that was across the creek (by bridge.)
I joined the Boy Scouts and went to scout camp each summer; marched in the Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps. I got a bicycle
and delivered magazines and newspapers and was active in High School sports.
During World War II, was a member of the volunteer Auxilary and we worked as aircraft spotters, and civil militias. At
the age of 16 and 1/2 years old, joined the Army Air Corps Reserve to go into Pilot training after reaching 17 and 1/2 years
old. Never got called to go on active duty till I was 18 and 1/2 years old. After High School graduation I was able to get
one semester of college at the University of Idaho, Southern Branch in Pocatello, Idaho before I was called to active duty.
Well the war was finished at V-J Day before completing pilot training.
After finishing my first two years at Univ. of Idaho, So. Branch I ended up getting my degree from USC in Los Angeles,
CA. I was lucky to get most of my schooling paid by the GI Bill. After working in Radio, TV and Advertising I was called back
as a private for the Korean war. I was sent to Las Vegas Nevada to Nellis Air Force Base where I swept recreation halls and
mended pool tables. While there I got a commissioned as an officer. After I was released from active duty, I went back to
working in advertising for Liquid Carbonic Corporation for three months and was recalled to active duty for a third time for
a special project involving television and air force applications.
Upon returning to civilian life, I helped a buddy from the Air Force start an engineering/manufacturing business in television
equipment,. It was at this time that I was diagnosed as having had polio after suffering from hip problems. Went to an orthopedist
and he asked me when I had polio? Then is when asking my parents, it was revealed all the problems experienced as a child.
The doctor specified putting a lift in the right shoe and all the pains went away. Then went to work in aerospace building
infrared communication and sensing equipment; then to computing equipment, then to nuclear-powered space power systems, then
to manufacturing torpedoes, then to building all kinds of computing equipment for the next 25 years.
In early 1988 I began to fall down and break kneecaps. Attended both my daughter's wedding in Connecticut and my son's
wedding in San Diego in a leg cast. Blamed it all on faulty floor waxes where I worked. After retiring in 1994, decided it
was time to get in shape. My muscles were out of tone and needed exercise. I joined my wife in walking three miles every morning.
Now my history has always been "no pain-no gain". Well the more we walked the weaker I got along with painful muscles
and joints. It wasn't long before my 3 miles shrunk to 1/2 mile. It was then I was introduced to Jacqueline Perry by an article
in the Pasadena "Star News" and diagnosed with Post-Polio Sequelae. It was hard understanding the damage done to
my body by my latest attempt to get back my body strength.
Thanks for the understanding and help from my wife and various Post-Polio support groups that let me associate with them.
It is only by one's dogged determination and effort in the right places and the help, education and guidance of others have
I been able to regain some of my mobility.
Things that I am able to do: Since 1988, I have been a founder and a board member of the Celiac Disease Foundation. I
still spend more than 60 hours a month doing membership records, research and surveys for the medical community and assistance
in preparing papers for the various medical societies and celiac disease. Also I have canes, a walker which permits me to
go to casinos and sit down (on the walker) when my legs tell me to. My scooter allows we to attend orchid fairs, tour orchid
nurseries, go to the zoos and theme parks and most important, to accompany my wife on her exercising walks. I also take care
of 10+ rose bushes and 100+ orchids.
You can contact me at (760)431-2947 or click the link below to send me a message.
Click here to send Donald a message
I was born in Pensacola, Florida where my dad was attending Navy flight school. We later moved to Oak Harbor, Washington where
I contracted polio in 1945 at the age of 5. I spent several months at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle. I was
the first to experience the Sister Kenny treatment with the hot packs and made the local papers. Although completely paralyzed
for a short time, I regained the use of my legs but remained weak from the waist up. I never regained the use of my left arm
even though my left hand still had some strength. I underwent several surgeries to transfer muscles from one part of my hand
and arm to other locations on the arm with no success. I maintained fairly good use of my right arm and could raise it above
my head, but after years of over use playing golf, racket ball, bowling, and skiing, I no longer have the strength to reach
for a salt shaker or glass without planting my elbow on the table then extending my arm. When standing, I can no longer raise
a glass high enough to finish the last of a drink. You can imagine some of the comments I get when I drink a beer using a
I taught school for 33 years and, finally had to request that I be allowed to retire 6 months before my 55th birthday.
By using my 165 accumulated sick days, a sub was hired to finish out the last six months. I was no longer able to write on
I was fortunate enough to be able to teach for the Department of Defense Schools in Augsburg, Germany for two years and
Misawa, Japan for one year. While working for the military I attended regular physical therapy sessions on base before the
school day started. I was told by the head of physical therapy that he had never seen the extent of muscle substitution going
in my back that enabled me to do things such as golfing, etc.
I'm 64 now, and I began noticing gradual weakening of the muscles about 18 years ago. While meeting with Grace Young in
the Physical Therapy department of a Kaiser Permanente facility, I was advised to conserve energy in my right arm by using
an arm brace. That's not easy to do when you only have the use of one arm. For years, there have been numerous devices developed
for leg problems, but very few for arms.
I have also found that deep penetrating heat from far infrared products helps. I have and use far infrared comforters,
socks and long johns. I sit in my dry heat far infrared sauna every morning. As a result, I experience very little discomfort
unless I really over use my arm. If anyone would like more information on these products, my e-mail is Jim@rosenet.net.
My house is on the market and I will be moving to Oregon as soon as it sells. I would like to hear from anyone in or near
Douglas County, Oregon who knows of a PPS group and, if none exist, maybe starting one.
I'm also interested in hearing from anyone with problems similar to mine.
Let's never give up, never lose hope, and always keep caring about one another.
Click here to send Shirley a note
|Rick and Emma
I contracted polio when I was 3 years old in 1951. My parents first took me to the local Navy Hospital but I was soon transferred
to San Diego County Hospital. I don't remember how long I was there except my mother always said that they sent me home with
two braces and crutches telling her that I would never really walk again. My left leg and hip, and parts of my back, were
totally paralyzed. My right leg was also affected, but not as severely.
When I was 4 years old, my mother (who was waiting in line to pay our water bill) was approached by a Shriner. He said
they were going to open a new orthopedic hospital in Los Angeles and asked if they could examine me for possible admission
to the new hospital. Of course, my Mom said yes!
I was soon admitted to the new Shriner's Hospital in Los Angeles. From then until I was 16 years old, I spent a total
of four and one half years in Shriner's hospital. I had 12 operations while there. I had tendons loosened, joints fused, muscles
transplanted, and the growth in my good leg stunted. I was eventually able to walk short distances brace free. For speed or
distance I used two forearm crutches.
I had a great time in Shriner's hospital. I made many friends, learned a lot about life, was loved by many nurses and
doctors, and got into my share of trouble. There is still nothing like a good wheelchair race! Sure I missed my parents and
siblings, but being in the hospital so much was just a natural part of my existence.
In 1953 I became their Poster Child. The picture on the second page of this web site is me. While I was the poster child
I met many movie stars and famous people. I still remember meeting Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I also discovered that I enjoyed
public speaking, specially when giving talks to groups of Shriners. Later in life I was able to successfully utilize this
skill in my professional career.
I became an Electronics Engineer when I graduated from Cal Poly in 1970. I went to work for Litton designing and installing
giant automated material handling systems (computerized warehouses with robots doing the work). It was interesting and exciting
work which required enormous amounts of air travel and walking. Eventually I was in charge of worldwide service and training
interspersed with many sales trips. I was on the road for 100 days a year for 25 years.
In 1995 I left Litton after 25 years and attended graduate school for a year full time and wrote a book (thesis) on volunteer
leadership. Occasionally I still lecture at colleges and universities about leadership and disabilities.
Following graduate school I taught high school geometry, trigonometry, and statistics for three years before being forced
to retire because my right (good) leg just got too weak. The weakness was aggravated by emergency abdominal surgery. Teaching
high school was fun but was a lot more work than I imagined. My wife told me it would be difficult. She knew, as she had already
taught school for 25 years, but I occasionally get real stubborn when I want to do something.
I married my wife, Lenora, 31 years ago. We have the best daughter, a super son-in-law, and one wonderful grandchild.
Our hobbies include computers, traveling together, gardening, woodworking, photography, and bird watching, but most of all
enjoying our grand daughter, Emma Clare.
I just recently finished building a grandfather clock, from scratch, something I had always wanted to do. It took over
two years as I can only work a little at a time.
We also spend considerable amount of time doing volunteer work. In the past it was volunteering at schools, but now our
volunteer work revolves around polio and PPS issues.
We are now both retired. My right leg and back continue to get gradually weaker. I wear a long leg brace on my left leg,
use crutches for endurance, and an electric scooter for speed. I try to pace myself but I must admit that once I start something
I have a difficult time stopping to rest. Someday I will learn to take a nap.
My scooter allows me to do things I never could do like walking in the woods, cruising the boardwalk at the beach, and
moving around to meet people. I enjoy people with a positive attitude and a sense of humor.
The survivors group has been good for my wife and me. I've discovered I'm not alone with PPS and she has learned I'm not
the only one with a polio personality.
Click Here to Send Rick a Note.
My grandmother said that I would grow up and become an actor because of the silly faces I always made. I think that I have
always been somewhat of a clown and that trait has served me well throughout my life. But an actor, no. Not that I didn't
Born at the end of 1949, I grew up (never) in Cleveland, Ohio. At the end of 1952 I caught the polio bug and spent the
next 6-8 months in Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. I'm not sure of the length of time that I was in there and neither
is my mom. Don't remember too much about it either. I missed my family terribly and I do remember being locked in a closet
because I was crying and disturbing the others when my family left, after visiting me.
Though I don't remember much about my young childhood I do remember running and jumping. After polio I didn't do either
of these again.
Since then I have always worn a long-leg brace on my left leg and used crutches for added support. (I still use some aluminum
crutches that were made for me when I was 15.) In the late 80's I added a manual wheelchair to my list of equipment. And a
few years ago I added a power chair and bath bench too.
My parents fought to get me into public school, and succeeded. The condition being that I could attend as long as I didn't
need any special assistance. So I learned never to ask for help! I don't think I raised my hand in class until I was in high
school. For those of you that know me today it is probably hard to imagine that I was a very shy child.
I spent a lot of time watching the neighborhood kids playing outside from my bedroom window (hiding behind the curtains).
Somewhere along the line I realized that if I wanted anything in life I was going to have to ask for it. I remember as
a teenager reading one of those teen magazines that had an article in it on how to have a great personality, and lots of friends.
I took the information in that article and applied some of it to myself.
As a test of my newfound self-confidence I also began challenging authority. My girlfriend and I cut school, took the
train downtown and panhandled lunch money. We split up to see which one of us could collect the most. I collected more than
she did, almost double the amount in fact. I think people felt sorry for the poor crippled girl.
What an eye opener that was.
I spend quite a few of my childhood summer vacations in the hospital having various polio related orthopedic surgeries.
It got to where I enjoyed going there because I knew the ropes and enjoyed helping the other less experienced kids on the
ward get what they wanted. Along with potholders that we made, we had wheelchair races down the halls and stuff like that
for fun. Does anyone else remember those old wooden wheelchairs?
After graduating from high school I attended Ohio State University where I met my first husband. We married and moved
to Toronto, Canada where I had my two sons. That was thirty plus years ago. Eeek!
After six years in Toronto we moved back to the states and gradually worked our way out to sunny, warm and beautiful San
Diego, California, arriving in 1980. It took us four years to get here with stops (and jobs) in Cleveland, Chicago and Houston
along the way.
The irony of it is that in 1969 we had the option of going to either San Francisco or Toronto. I just wasn't ready to
be that far from home at that time. So we chose Toronto at the time.
I always knew that I hated the cold and ice of the northeast, but I really didn't know how much it had hampered my day-to-day
life until I moved away from it. I remember slipping and sliding my way home from school during the winter months. And staying
home more than I wanted because of the weather.
I look back on those days and wonder how I did it. How did I carry my two children up and down the stairs? I grew up in
two story homes. How did I do it? I know that I couldn't do it now.
Somewhere along the way I divorced my first husband and then married again.
My focus was always on raising my two boys, so the jobs I had were only to supplement our income, not career focused.
It wasn't until they graduated high school that I started really looking into career opportunities. And by then I was already
having post-polio problems.
I had a small graphic design company while the kids were growing up and continued in that area by taking a job at the
San Diego Union Tribune in the composing department. That meant 8 hours a day on my feet walking 3-4 miles a night. After
a few years of this my good leg started to give out.
My doctor performed another orthopedic surgery that was supposed to give me more balanced muscle support. It didn't and
I stopped working in mid 1998.
In 1993, while I was working at the newspaper I went on a ski trip to Durango, Colorado that was sponsored by the Torrey
Pines Kiwanis Club. It was fantastic!!! I came back to work full of enthusiasm for this program. There was another woman in
my department with a disability and when I mentioned the ski trip to her she was a little dismayed that she had not heard
of it before. I went to the CEO and suggested that items like this be in the paper. He agreed.
Since January of 1994 I have been writing a monthly newspaper column, Abilities, where I get to go blah, blah, blah and
also list the things going on in town for those with disabilities.
As a result of this column I now have many friends with disabilities. I no longer feel like I am the lone ranger. Until
the ski trip I hadn't been involved with anything disabled.
Since the ski trip I have also sailed and handcycled through other programs for those with disabilities. I am also a member
of the San Diego Chief of Police's advisory board for persons with disabilities and the Citizens Review Committee for San
Diego, and I am a Rotarian too.
I am now divorced again and living with my dog, Bailey.
A few months ago I started volunteering with the police department as a senior patrol person. I now have a badge, a uniform
and get to drive a police car and ticket those who illegally park in disabled spaces. How cool is that?
But that is another story.
Click here to send Marilyn a note.
I am a native Californian, born in San Francisco, the city by the sea and moved to Los Angeles when I was 4 years old. I have
one brother 16 months older. We were raised by my Mom and grandma until I was 14 years at which time my Mom got remarried
and we moved to another home in the south part of Los Angeles.
I completed high school in 1947 and after a short stint at Douglas Aircraft Copany, I joined the Merchant Marine with
four of my friends. I was able to go through the Panama Canal both ways via Kobe Japan.
I went to work for the telephone company in 1948 as an installer then got married in 1949. Our first child was born
9 months and 13 days latter (phew!) followed by our daughter 12 months later.
We purchased a home in Manhattan beach in 1952 and 8 months later I contracted Polio and was taken to Los Angeles County
General Hospital and placed in an iron lung. My life with Polio had begun with total paralysis. I was moved to Rancho Los
Amigos 3 weeks latter. I remained there until I no longer required respiratory assistance. Then in December 21 1952, I was
moved to Kabot Kaiser Institute in Santa Monica where I underwent intensive therapy for 14 months (8hrs a day, 5 days a week)
I was released in April 1954 being able to walk and take care of myself. Fortunately I still had my wife and 2 lovely children
I returned to work in July of that year after some help from our local union. I remained in a craft assignment until
I was promoted to management in 1964, and after various assignments, I wound up in interoffice engineering specalizing in
fiber optic cable.
I have enjoyed flying and boating. I was president of the International Wheelchair Aviators for 2 years, 1993 to 1995,
during which time we flew once a month to various locations in California, Nevada, and Arizona for lunch.
While I was living in Manhattan Beach, I assisted my neighbor in the construction of 12 small boats and in 1966 I owned
a 26 foot sloop which we used to go to Catalina and catch fresh lobster for dinner.
After one more boy in 1958, 3 wives, 1 broken nose, 1 dislocated shoulder, 2 broken legs, 8 grandchildren, one great
grand child, and an 8 year stint with another woman, I have settled down in my quiet little cottage with a caregiver, a rampvan
and electric wheelchair, and a lovely lady I see quite often. Life is good (but I'm getting nervous!!)
writ by hand, age 75
We regret to report that our dear friend Bob past away in late December 2006 [Ed].