By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Norman P. Haverkos spent his childhood working on the family farm.
He played varsity basketball and baseball at Batesville High School, but passed on an invitation to play professional baseball for a team in the Cincinnati Reds farm system.
"His farm background made him very industrious," said his son, Todd Haverkos of Chicago. "He was strong - a man's man. But he also knew how to accept change and roll with it."
In 1964, at the age of 33, Mr. Haverkos' tolerance for change was put to the test when he was diagnosed with acute chronic multiple sclerosis, a disease that eventually left him unable to walk.
" 'It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,' that's the quote he lived by," said his son. "What best defined him was his grace in handling his situation. He wasn't a victim - he was a survivor."
Mr. Haverkos died Friday at Beechwood Home in O'Bryonville from complications from his 40-year battle with multiple sclerosis. He was 72.
For the past 19 years, the former electrical engineer lived at Beechwood Home, a long-term care facility. There, he put his engineering savvy to use, trying out high-tech devices that helped him regain some of his old skills.
One of the first was a retainer-like plate with nine sensors that rests on the roof of the mouth - called the UCS 1000 Tongue Touch Keypad.
By touching one of the sensors with his tongue, he could access a computer screen that would let him operate electrical appliances in his room.
"It's almost like being able to walk again," Mr. Haverkos told the Enquirer in 1999. "Until I got this, I struggled with things and had to get somebody to do everything for me."
Mr. Haverkos earned a bachelor's degree in education specializing in mathematics and chemistry in 1953.
He served in the Army as a radar repairman and repair instructor, and was stationed in Korea, from 1954-1956.
Upon returning from Korea, he attended Purdue University, where he received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1958. Shortly after, he and his family moved to Cincinnati, when he accepted a position with Avco (now Cincinnati Electronics).
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1964, he continued to work for Avco. But as the disease progressed, his health deteriorated. In 1971 he became confined to a wheelchair. Two years later, he retired from his job at Avco.
A sports fan, Mr. Haverkos faithfully followed the Cincinnati Reds, and was a trivia buff.
Besides his son, other survivors include his wife of 50 years, Emma Jean Haverkos of Madeira; three daughters, Mary Sue Markey of Clifton, Karen Richter of Fairfield, and Patti Garibay of West Chester; another son, Timothy of Hamilton; a brother Paul, of Loveland; a sister Mildred Lovell of Oldenburg, Ind.; and nine grandchildren.
Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. today at St. John the Baptist Church, 5361 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain Township. Mass of Christian burial will follow. Burial will be in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, c/o "Team Haverkos MS 150," or to the American Heritage Girls, 130 Tri-County Parkway, Suite 202, Cincinnati, OH 45246.
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