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Hers was a life without sound, regrets

A LIFE LIVED: Lois V. Patton, 1920-2007
Hers was a life without sound, regrets

April 6, 2007
By Will Higgins

Deafness is officially a disability, covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. But Lois V. Patton, who died Monday at 86, didn’t seem disabled.

Deaf since birth, she played euchre, gardened, sewed, crocheted, drove cars, got a bang out of “I Love Lucy” — this in the days before closed-captioning.

She and her husband, Edward Patton, had a house on the Eastside and raised two daughters.

One time, Mrs. Patton told her oldest daughter, Emily Espich, she wished she could hear Emily’s voice.

“But she was a content, happy person,” Espich says, “and I never got the sense she regretted being deaf.”

Mrs. Patton had a notably expressive face that served her well. Facial expressions are useful, even essential in American Sign Language, said Espich, an ASL translator at Lawrence North High School — “it’s part of the grammar.” Without raised eyebrows, for instance, a question could appear a declaration.

Comedienne Lucille Ball had a famously expressive face, and Mrs. Patton and her husband enjoyed her humor immensely, even with no sound.

They also liked comedian Red Skelton because he, too, could get his point across wordlessly. Jerry Lewis was another they liked.

Mrs. Patton was deaf from birth. Her husband lost his hearing at age 3. They grew up in different Indiana towns — she in Salem, he in Ligonier — and met in Indianapolis at the Indiana School for the Deaf. Continue

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