Visionary Leader - September 2013

Jack R. Gannon


Jack Gannon, 1959Gannon poses with his lightpole banner in front of Chapel HallJack R. Gannon, ‘59, is Visionary Leader of the month for September 2013. Gannon is a well-known author, educator, historian, and museum curator.

Gannon was born in West Plains, Mo., in 1936 and became deaf at 8 years old due to spinal meningitis. He graduated from the Missouri School for the Deaf in 1954 and graduated from Gallaudet in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Jack met his wife, Rosalyn, at Gallaudet and the couple married five days after graduation.

After college, Gannon taught at the Nebraska School for the Deaf in Omaha. Gannon was also as an athletics coach and was named “Coach of the Year” of Metropolitan Omaha by WOW-TV.

Jack Gannon, circa 1980Eventually Gannon made his way back to Gallaudet where he served in administrative roles in alumni relations, public relations, and as a special assistant to the president for many years.

Gannon authored many books on Deaf culture and history including, Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America, The Week the World Heard Gallaudet, and co-authored Deaf Eyes: A Pictorial History. His most recent work, World Federation of the Deaf: A History, is a comprehensive overview of the first 50 years of the Federation’s existence. In addition, Gannon curated “History Through Deaf Eyes,” a traveling exhibit which captured nearly 200 years of deaf American history.

Gannon is also an activist for the deaf community through the National Association of the Deaf. While in Nebraska, Gannon served terms as president and vice president of the Nebraska Association of the Deaf, was editor of The Deaf Nebraskan, and was president of the Omaha Club of the Deaf.

Jack Gannon, 2007Gannon has won numerous awards throughout his life, including an honorary doctorate degree from Gallaudet in 1988. In 2011, both Gannon and his wife were honored with the International Solidarity Merit Award, First Class, from the World Federation of the Deaf for their work to preserve the history of deaf people from around the world. In 1989, Gannon received the Laurent Clerc Award, which is given for outstanding social contributions made by a deaf person, the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of the Deaf, and the Edward Allen Fay Award from the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf.

One of the several people to nominate Gannon as a Visionary Leader said: “I cannot imagine anyone more visionary than Jack R. Gannon. He had the foresight to see what documentation of deaf lives could mean to the wider world. His contributions to the nation and the world have made life better for deaf people.” Another nominator wrote: “Jack recognized the need for some kind of documentation of the multi-faceted history of the deaf as a unique minority group with its distinctive visual culture.”

Jack and Roz on their farm posing with hats and pitchfork in the The Gannons currently live on an 18th century farmhouse in New Market, Md. The couple has two children, Christine and Jeff and four grandchildren. Christine is the director of Health and Wellness Programs at Gallaudet.

Jack and Roz Gannon, circa 2013


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