Michael Fuss: Disabled rights activist, lover of the great outdoors

Michael Fuss, who died on july 10, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of family

Michael Steven Fuss passed away peacefully on July 10, 2017, at home surrounded by his loving children. He was 72.

Born in New York on March 17, 1945, Michael grew up there before moving to Los Angeles as a young teenager. He then moved to Berkeley in 1966 to attend UC Berkeley and called the Bay Area home for the next 51 years.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in anthropology and minor in linguistics, he helped build the university’s Disabled Students’ Program, played a role in the creation of The Center for Independent Living, and helped spur Berkeley’s pioneering efforts to incorporate curb cuts into city planning to enable greater mobility for, and civic participation by, wheelchair users.

Michael was also key in creating a program to identify and prevent child abuse at Children’s Hospital Oakland, a model that was replicated at other institutions through his work with the National Institute of Mental Health.

He later obtained an MBA from John F. Kennedy University and worked as a business consultant.

Throughout his life, Michael found great joy in backpacking, his dogs, hot rods, cooking, reading, motorcycles, learning, and Judaism.

But his greatest love was for his three children. Whether creating a Sunday soccer league, building a treehouse, imparting the joy of reading and learning, or taking them out into the wilderness to share his love of the outdoors, Michael devoted himself fully to their wellbeing.

Michael is survived by his children Ilan Fuss (Mikayla Weissman), Ari Breakstone and Rina Breakstone; his siblings Lorri Hilbert (John Hilbert) and Robert Fuss; and his mother Carolyn Fuss.

Donations in his memory can be made to Congregation Beth Israel, The Center for Independent Living, the California State Parks Foundation, or Milo Foundation.