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BU LAW Professor Allan Macurdy Dies at 47

Disability rights advocate oversaw Office of Disability Services


Disability rights advocate Allan Macurdy, a LAW professor, died on June 23. Photo by Fred Sway

Allan Macurdy, a staunch disability rights advocate and a School of Law visiting associate professor, died Monday, June 23, after a lengthy battle with muscular dystrophy. He was 47 years old.

Macurdy had defied medical odds by living for more than 20 years on a ventilator. After 13 months in the hospital, he finally succumbed with his wife, Marie Trottier, and beloved spaniel, Lady Rose, by his side.

“May we always remember the service Allan gave the University, and the passion with which he advocated for the rights of all students,” says Kenneth Elmore, the dean of students.

Macurdy (CAS’84, LAW’86), who had managed BU’s Office of Disability Services since 1996, was outspoken and honest about what he described to the Boston Globe in 1999 as the “constant, grinding reality” of being perceived as mentally deficient, incapable of communicating, or simply unhappy.

“I have a happy life,” he told the Globe. “The fact that few people can see that probably says more about what’s wrong with the way we, as a society, look at ourselves than it is any indication of what my life is really like. We have this mythical idea about physical autonomy, physical perfection — we’re the society of diet crazes and bizarre body-consciousness. In terms of building your happiness in life, the outside package matters so little. I love my work. I have a strong family. I love my wife. I love my dog.”

In his role at the Office of Disability Services, Macurdy was responsible for disability policy, and he monitored and promoted the University’s efforts to ensure full and equal access to curricula, employment, facilities, events, and services. He also taught Conflict of Laws, Admiralty and Maritime Law, Federal Indian Law, and Legal Rights of Individuals with Disabilities at the School of Law. He published and lectured widely on Constitutional law, civil rights enforcement, individual liberties, federal jurisdiction, and law and disability.

Macurdy was a board member of the Franciscan Children’s Hospital, a founding board member of Partners for Youth with Disabilities, a past president and board member of the Disability Law Center Boston, and a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

A wake will be held at Lehman & Reen Funeral Home, 63 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton, on Friday, June 27, from 4 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, June 28, at 10 a.m., a funeral service for relatives and friends will take place in Cambridge at the Memorial Church at Harvard University, One Harvard Yard. A memorial fund has been set up in Macurdy’s name and donations can be sent to: The Allan H. Macurdy Memorial Fund, Boston University, One Sherborn St., Boston, MA 02215.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached cdanilof@bu.edu.


19 Comments on BU LAW Professor Allan Macurdy Dies at 47

  • Anonymous on 06.26.2008 at 5:30 am

    God Bless Macurdy Family

    What an amazing inspiration! May he rest in peace and God Bless his family.

  • Leonard Glantz on 06.26.2008 at 11:14 am

    The loss of a great man

    The world has lost a great man. Allan was always upbeat, helpful, witty, smart and constructive. He was truly very special and I will certainly miss him as will countless others whose lives he so affected.

  • Anonymous on 06.26.2008 at 12:43 pm

    a rich life

    My family has benefited from the amazing support offered by the Office of Disability Services. Allan Macurdy set a tone of respect and warmth that has enabled the best outcomes for all of us. He will be missed.

  • Anonymous on 06.26.2008 at 2:05 pm

    A great man who will be missed by all those he touched during his lifetime.

  • Anonymous on 06.26.2008 at 2:48 pm

    My prayers are with his family. What a tremendous loss for everyone. This man made a difference in so many people’s lives. May he rest in peace.

  • Natalie Grant on 06.27.2008 at 9:24 am


    I unfortunately never had an opportunity to meet Professor Macurdy but can see that his passion for defending the rights of others took precedence over his own disabilities – truly an amazing man! His story puts in perspective how blessed we all are, regardless of the disabilities we may possess. God Bless him and his family.

  • Anonymous on 06.27.2008 at 11:09 am

    An individual of depth and purpose

    I had the great fortune of working along side Allan as a colleague. He was an individual of great intellect – that is for sure, but what struck me was his fantastic taste in music, his humor and above all his devotion to his wife, his dog and his family.

    My lasting image of Allan will be him, enjoying a meal from U Burger, with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” blaring on his stereo in his office as he was doing some work on a Saturday afternoon.

    It was on these days, where we would both be working away on gosh knows what, that we had the freedom to talk about all aspects of life. Thank you for being a friend, Allan. You have been an inspiration.

    Blessings to Marie and his entire family.

  • Siddesh Bale on 06.27.2008 at 3:17 pm

    Professor Macurdy will be sorely missed

    It is truly a sad day. Professory Macurdy was both a gentlemen and a scholar – always devoted to his students and freely giving of this time and his intellect. He is a role model for all of us. I will miss him.

  • John Paul Riquelme, Department of English on 06.28.2008 at 6:07 pm

    Allan Macurdy's Commitment

    I had occasion several times to work closely with Allan in situations involving students who deserved adjustments for the taking of exams and the deadlines for papers. One of those times was especially complicated in a way that could easily have taxed the patience of those involved. Allan’s commitment to finding solutions that satisfied everyone made the process possible and ultimately successful. I’m sure that this small example could be multiplied many, many times and that a large number of students were touched by Allan’s humanity, goodwill, and commitment. I’ll miss him, but I certainly won’t forget him.
    Sincerely, JP Riquelme, English

  • Anonymous on 06.30.2008 at 9:19 am

    Allan Macurdy

    Although our paths didn’t cross often after graduation, I often thought of Allan when I suffered my own life-threatening disability that lasted for several years and subsequent serious medical issues that impaired my mobility and exasperated me. Allan’s good humor (and occasional expressed frustration) with, inter alia, being stuck in a law tower bathroom not designed for wheelchair access, driving to school in his motorized wheelchair over indifferently cleared Boston sidewalks and through torrential rains wearing his poncho, being ignored or condescended to because he was permanently seated (not cognitively impaired), cracking wise whenever possible, aggravation with a world (and a campus) not organized for people with disabilities. Allan was the person who taught me the incidental benefits of drinking beer through a straw during law school happy hour (you get more drunk more quickly). He was a guy who would get it done one way if he couldn’t get it done another way. I was able to weather my travails through his example and he taught me a lot about perseverance, patience and good humor. The feat of living 47 years with Duchenne MD (decades longer than doctors forecast) was less important to him than his wife, his family, satisfying work and justice. How many of us can say we have left our corner of the planet a more peaceful and just place for having lived?

  • Anonymous on 06.30.2008 at 11:24 am

    Thank You

    Allan went out of his way to assist me through some of the hardest moments as a BU law student struggling with my own disability. His concern, care, and good humor were a constant encouragement as was his own perseverance. He will be greatly missed.

  • Anonymous on 07.01.2008 at 2:38 pm

    While I had the misfortune of never knowing Allan Macurdy, I’m delighted by the honest comments left from people who did. I hope that BU honors his memory by self-imposing access and learning tools for all current (and future) students, faculty and staff with any disability.

  • Anonymous on 07.01.2008 at 7:59 pm

    I am a teacher that does a

    I am a teacher that does a yearly unit on persons with disabilities. Professor Macurdy was one of the individuals that my students wrote and studied about and gave presentations on. They admired his courage and the fact that “He has a life”

  • Mary F. Connelly, Esquire on 07.01.2008 at 8:36 pm

    Allan Macurdy

    My deepest sympathies to Marie and the rest of Allan’s family and other friends. May we all find comfort in our memories of him.

  • Thomas S. Carroll on 07.08.2008 at 6:12 am

    I wish i could have lived as fully as he did.

    Entering the College of Communication in the fall of 2005, and since having taken leave of absence for over a year from the school after having unbearable academic trouble in the wake of a fire taking my residence in March of 07, Allan will be, whether I graduate from BU or not, one of the best things I remember about the school.

    As a student who has long struggled with learning disabilities since I’ve been in school, Allan was an inspiration for us all. When i came to BU early in late August 2005, for the “ENTRY” program for students receiving help from the Office of Disabilities, Allan showed us that we could all do it. As someone who is often thought of as smart, and who hasn’t done stellar (or even satisfactorily) in my academic work since I was in 11th grade, I know what it’s like to be frustrated with a world that isn’t built for people “like” you, even though my disabilities were less visable, confined to my mind and my ability to read and learn…

    Allan dealt with this frustration better than I ever could. Even though i am not forced into physical disability, I envy the way he was able to not let anyone but himself dictate the limitations of his ability. It reflects the better angels of our nature that Allan was able to become a success and an inspiration for us all. My only regret is that I was not able to conquer my own disability during my time at BU as he has done so his ENTIRE life.

    May God keep you and Bless you, Allan, and may He hold you in the palm of His hand. I know the Holy Spirit is shining the perpetual light onto you, and you left the Earth, Boston, BU, and the ODS a better place for having been in it. I only hope someone can say that about me when it is my time to go.

    We’ll miss you.

    Kaitlyn, Sam H., Rachel P., and the rest of ENTRY ’05.

    Tommy C.

  • amy on 07.08.2008 at 10:37 pm

    he will be missed

    Professor Macurdy was one of the unsung heros at BU Law. He will be greatly missed.

  • Anonymous on 07.09.2008 at 8:22 am

    God Speed Allan!

    Our hearts and prayers go out to your family. You have touched so many lives in so many positive ways. You have been an angel advocate and your shoes will be hard to fill at BU, and in life!
    You will be surely missed by everyone….God Speed!

  • Doug Newman on 07.09.2008 at 10:43 pm

    Sad news

    I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to Allan’s friends and family. I went to high school with Allan in NJ, graduating in 1979. Allan was an amazing individual. He set quite an example with his life and inspired many. James 4:14.

  • Ralph M. Sherman on 02.12.2009 at 2:15 am

    Allan Macurdy

    Allan was my moot court partner. Allan was my friend. Allan once joked with me that he belonged to “the Crips” and advised me that we are all just temporarily able-bodied.

    Now that his spirit has left his body, he may be seen for who he really was.

    God rest my good friend.

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