ShareBilly Lutter tumbled to the wooden floor of his home. His parents picked him up and tried again to help him walk. It was no use. Doctors had been telling the Lutters to institutionalize five-year old Billy for some time. This was 1939 and institutionalization was commonly advised for children with physical and mental disabilities.
Billy’s parents, a steelworker and a homemaker, struggled with the decision to send Billy away. "This was back in the Depression. Things were tough all around,"says Fred Lutter, Billy's older brother by two years. "I was a very tearful situation." Their hearts breaking, the Lutters drove Billy from their home outside of Chicago to a state facility 200 miles away. They visited regularly for a year. But administrators, worried that such meetings upset the residents, advised them to stop coming."My brother realized who his parents were. To be left like that was very traumatic," says Fred. “I felt very sad to see my parents in such turmoil."The years rolled by. Billy's siblings got married and had their own children. Everybody thought about Billy, but his name was not spoken. Billy's parents grew old and, as they aged, grew infirm. They had done what they thought was best for Billy, but his absence had left a gaping, raw wound for the family. (Read more.)