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Obituary: Marcia Dugan ’53

Marcia B. Dugan, 78, of 2737 County House Road, Penn Yan, NY, died February 7 at her home, surrounded by her loving family.

Dugan was a long-time community volunteer, writer, speaker, and advocate for issues related to hearing loss.

Born in New Orleans, LA, August 19, 1931 to Ira J. and Virginia W. Brussel, she received her elementary and secondary education in Havana, Cuba, graduating from Colegio Buenavista in 1948. She graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

She was married for 34 years to her college sweetheart, Judge Frederick D. Dugan (1928-1987), who brought her to his hometown, Penn Yan, where she lived since 1955.

Dugan worked as a research biochemist and Spanish teacher before her 25 years as a professional in the field of public relations.  She served as director of public affairs at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), for 15 years (1980-95) and, prior to that, as director of public relations at Keuka College for eight years (1972-80).

She lost her hearing at age 40 and used an eclectic approach to enhance communication, including binaural hearing aids, speech, assistive technology, and sign language.  Dugan was the author of Keys to Living with Hearing Loss (Barrons, 1997) and Living with Hearing Loss (Gallaudet University Press, 2003). She served for nine years on the national board of trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) – formerly Self Help for Hard of Hearing People – and was national president from 1996-98.  She also served as treasurer of the NYS-HLAA board and was a past president of the Rochester, New York, HLAA chapter, and the recipient of the HLAA Howard E. “Rocky” Stone Humanitarian Award in 2002.

From 2001-06 she served as president of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH), and was a representative to the International Disability Alliance that was instrumental in drafting the 2008 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She served as chair of the steering committee for the Council for Better Hearing and Speech Month and the public relations committee of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.   She was also appointed to the Hearing Aid Dispenser Advisory Board responsible for overseeing the education and licensing of hearing aid dispensers in New York State.

Dugan’s volunteerism stretched beyond her work helping people with hearing loss.  In New York State, she was chair of the Genesee Valley Regents Regional Advisory Council for Postsecondary Education and also the NYS Committee for Postsecondary Education Planning.  An honorary life member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), she served in several capacities on the New York State Board, including State Legislative chair and newsletter editor, and remained active in the Yates County Branch of AAUW, of which she was a past president.  A member of the Association of Women in Communication (AWC), she received the Rochester chapter’s 1989 Matrix award for outstanding contributions to the communications field and in 2003 was the runner-up for the Clarion Award in the Book category.

Her personal achievements were many.  She was a delegate to the 1961 White House Conference on Aging, counted among the “Outstanding Young Women” of America in 1965, and a New York State delegate to the first National Women’s Conference in 1977 in Houston.

Dugan was involved in politics for many years and was a former member of the Yates County Republican Committee, a past president of the Yates County Republican Women, and a 7th Judicial District Past-President.  She served on the 1982 gubernatorial platform committee as chair of the educational plank committee.  She was named Yates County Republican of the Year in 1979.

She was a member of the Keuka College Board of Trustees from 1994-2010, and also served on the NTID National Advisory Group from 1999-2002.  A tireless advocate for her alma mater, Antioch College, for more than 55 years, she served for six years (1998-2004) on the Antioch alumni board and in 2005 received the J.D. Dawson Award, which recognizes significant contribution to the college.

An aficionada of the arts, she was instrumental in establishing the Yates Performing Arts Series and the Yates County Arts Council and was a founding member of the Keuka Arts Festival.

The recipient of numerous recognitions and awards, she received the Finger Lakes Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award (2006), New York State Senate Woman of Distinction Award (2004); Yates County Business and Professional “Woman of the Year Award” (2003); the Woman of Excellence Award (2000) from the Seven Lakes Council, Girl Scouts of America; and the Oticon “Focus on People Award”(1998).  In December 2009, Dugan was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Keuka College.

She is survived by her son, Michael (Claudia) Dugan of Wayne, PA; daughters Elizabeth (Charles Camponovo) of Washington, D.C. and Margaret (Timothy Dunne) of Paris, France; and her grandchildren Marshall, Madeleine, Molly, and Ruby.  She is also survived by her sisters Pat Bernstein of Weston, FL and Jeanne (Herbert) Wormser of Davie, FL; sister -in-law Gale Dugan of Washington, DC.; and many loyal and caring friends.

Calling hours will be at the Weldon Funeral Home, 102 East Main Street in Penn Yan, on Wednesday, February 10th from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  Funeral services are private and will be held at the convenience of the family.  A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at a later date, yet to be determined.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to Keuka College or the Hearing Loss Association of America.