“The same lack of services my ancestors said drove them to institutionalize Wade—the want of anyone to walk with him and make sure he got home safe—still drives disabled people into facilities today.”
5′ 10″. Dark hair. Gentle and easygoing. At the time of his death, in the ’60s, they said he had schizophrenia, but the diagnosis today likely would be a developmental disability, probably autism. Wade didn’t grow up apparently neurotypical. There was no shift in his teens or twenties. Family lore remembers him disabled from the start. Buried on a grassy hillside above a creek near the Wilkes–Watauga county line. The sole surviving picture of him, found tucked away in other family papers, shows a short, round-faced boy among the several siblings common to rural families before birth control, when poor farm couples’ labor strategy was procreation. He never spoke much. At least later in life, he tended to curl and stoop, rarely moving upright. By then, he didn’t always seem responsive to his environment, but that may have been his years in the hospital as much as anything else. As a young man, he liked the outdoors. Wade seemed to enjoy time alone in the woods near his parents’ farm. This would be the cited cause of what happened later.