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Chris Pendergast, who fought ALS thousand after thousand, dies at 71

In addition to his wife, Christine (Martin) Pendergast, former president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association on Long Island, he is survived by a son, Christopher, known as Buddy; one daughter, Melissa Scriven; and a grandson.

Mr. Pendergast and his wife recounted the family’s collaborative effort to fight ALS in a book, “Blink Spoken Here: Tales From a Journey to Within,” which was published this year. The title comes from Eye Tracking Computer which uses infrared light to substitute for oral speech when patients lose their voice.

After retiring from teaching in 2003, Mr. Pendergast made frequent public appearances, including a visit to Northport High School last February, to extol the power of persistence in the face of adversity.

In 2005, when he spoke to elementary school students at a school on 103rd Street East in Manhattan, across from Gehrig’s birthplace, “you could hear a pin drop,” Pendergast said.

Gehrig, Pendergast told The Times in 2009, “taught me that the human mind can transcend any affliction. I am now quadriplegic, using a feeding tube and an external ventilator for part of the day. But with Lou as a model, I still feel that I have a lot of reasons to live.

In the foreword to the book of Pendergasts, Jonathan Eig, author of “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig” (2005), writes: “Chris shows that he is a worthy heir to the lineage of Lou Gehrig. “

Echoing Gehrig, Mr Pendergast insisted he was lucky in his own way.

“There is no doubt that being actively involved in the fight against disease in this form lengthens life,” he said in 2005. “We cannot have chemotherapy or invasive surgeries for us. to be able to fight disease, so we have the choice to do nothing and let the disease take hold of us, or to fight with spirit and get involved.

It‘s our only medicine,” he added.

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