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Celebrating the Life of Cody Williams 1958-2023

In 1962, Cody became the first patient at the Scottish Rite Institute for Childhood Aphasia at Stanford University under the supervision of the late Drs. Jon Eisenson and Robert H. Gottsleben. Cody got the proper care he needed, which started his inspiring journey.

Cody was born in 1953, in the small town of Salinas, California, to parents Betty and Paul Williams. As a toddler, Cody struggled with communication and speech progression, leading to discouragement and frustration. He was wrongly assessed as having epileptic seizures, but his parents refused this diagnosis. Cody was correctly diagnosed as hearing impaired and aphasic by the California Scottish Rite Foundation.

Cody Paul Williams peacefully passed away from natural causes on January 11th in Southern California at age 64.

As the very 1st speech-language therapy student of the California Scottish Rite Foundation, Cody Williams's story became a turning point for those who had similar struggles.

During Cody's time in therapy, his mother, Betty, started advocating for suitable public education for the physically impaired and neurologically diverse so that children like her son could access appropriate learning resources. Betty knew her family wasn't alone in the community, so she contacted and organized with other parents with similar experiences.

News about Cody's story began to spread, which was shared through news clippings throughout the town and neighboring communities. This caught the attention of the local March of Dimes; by age 8, he became the face of their organization.

A big part of Cody's success with the California Scottish Rite Foundation was that the intensive therapy enabled him to integrate into mainstream schooling, which was the goal for children like him to experience public school like every other kid. Cody's journey inspired his small-town school district to establish a special classroom for students needing extra assistance. This was the start of a movement that changed how public schools started implementing assisted learning classes and programs.

Through his high school years, Cody made lots of lifelong friends. Being able to experience high school like every other kid made him feel seen.

After graduating from Salinas High School in 1978, Cody began his studies in Alabama at Birmingham Bible School for the Deaf. He returned home to California, then enrolled at Ohlone College to take deaf studies and studio art. Cody also spent time in Iowa to work with Deaf Missions, where the first American Sign Language version of the Christian Bible was created and published.

His studies were possible because the California Scottish Rite Foundation gave him access to the world of learning and communication. In short, Cody was "seen" as a person by someone other than his parents, and that made all the difference.

Cody Williams' story opened the door for so many who were in his same shoes. Cody had an extensive support system after his time in the California Scottish Rite Foundation Programs. This group of amazing people consisted of his niece and nephews, caring neighbors, loving family, and trusted friends who all appreciated Cody's generosity by returning the favor. Cody was immensely impactful on so many people in his life. The love was and is still very much felt.

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