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Bertha Cutcher, 82, of East Amherst, who pioneered services and programs to make the University at Buffalo more accessible to the disabled, died Thursday (Dec. 23, 1999) in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a brief illness.

In 1976, she was instrumental in getting a $500,000 federal grant to establish an Office of Services for the Handicapped at UB, which she subsequently directed. One of 11 colleges funded under this pilot project, UB soon was recognized as one of the most handicapped-accessible schools in the nation.

When the grant expired in 1980, the university continued to support the office and its activities. She retired in 1982, but continued to work with the office as a volunteer.

Cutcher also organized and provided services to help disabled students pursue their education. She obtained grants to purchase the latest equipment for them, especially for the visually impaired. She also worked with UB's Department of Recreation and Athletics to provide them with opportunities to bowl, swim and enjoy other sports.

She received numerous honors, including an Outstanding Service Award from UB, the Chancellor's Excellence Award from the State University of New York and a citation from the state Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

She was named an Outstanding Citizen for 1982 by The Buffalo News.

Born Bertha Newman in Scranton, Pa., she earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She also had worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, where she helped establish a cleft palate clinic and was a counselor in the heart clinic.

She came to UB in 1966 as associate director of the Office of Student Affairs and Services, serving as a counseling psychologist for students in crisis. In 1973, she became associate director of the Office of Placement and Career Guidance.

After she retired, she consulted and volunteered with agencies and organizations serving the disabled. She was president of the Buffalo branch of the American Association of University Women and was active in its various projects, particularly the annual book sale.

She also was active in promoting the Elderhostel program and was a member of Temple Beth Am in Amherst.

She and her husband, Abraham, a former assistant principal at West Seneca West High School, were married in 1955.

In addition to her husband, survivors include a daughter, Minda of Dunstable, Mass.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday in Temple Beth Am, 4660 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. Burial will be in White Chapel Memorial Park, Amherst.


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