By Dan Haley
Joel Sheffel, a lively and pugnacious advocate for people with disabilities in Oak Park and beyond, was found dead in his Oak Park apartment on Monday. Mr. Sheffel was 68 and reportedly suffered from leukemia, according to a spokeswoman for the Oak Park Housing Authority. He had last been seen at The Oaks late on Sunday evening.
He had lived for 11 years at The Oaks, 114 S. Humphrey Ave., an apartment building for seniors and the disabled, that is run by the housing authority.
Mr. Sheffel was the founder and executive director of the West Suburban Access News Association, an advocacy group and website which served as a hub for information on living with disabilities. He told Wednesday Journal in 2010 that he started the effort when he was unable to find a source of information to meet his own needs.
"I had no idea where to go for help or what to do," he said. "I had no idea it was going to grow to where it is now. I just kept adding information. I've been completely surprised by our ability to establish ourselves with other organizations who serve people with disabilities and gaining their respect and willingness to work with us."
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Sheffel were pending as of press time on Tuesday morning.