Timothy Stoklosa, a gifted artist who battled Duchenne muscular dystrophy, died on May 12. He was 33.

Stoklosa worked as art director at The VIA Agency in Portland and was pursuing an art degree at the University of Southern Maine. He was an outspoken advocate for adults with disabilities, and worked with legislators to create laws giving him and others access to housing and direct support services.

He was remembered by family and friends on Tuesday as a creative and inspiring guy who had a tremendous impact on others.

“He always rose to the occasion in spite of so many difficulties,” said his mother, Karen Anderson, of Ocean Park. “He never spent a day in bed feeling sorry for himself. He lived his life to the fullest on every level.”

Stoklosa grew up in Ocean Park and was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 3. At age 9, he lost his ability to walk and began using a wheelchair. Shortly after, he got his first electric-powered wheelchair.

“It was total freedom for him,” his mother said. “He would hit the road and go to Old Orchard Beach to buy pizza.”

He attended Thornton Academy and graduated in 2003. There, he developed his passion for art. His obituary, published in Tuesday’s newspaper, notes a pastiche he created his senior year of a work by German Renaissance painter Albrecht Durer. His mother said it took him nine months to finish.

As Stoklosa’s disease progressed, he could no longer use his hands to draw, but he didn’t give up. He learned to create art with a computer.

“Art saved him,” his mother said. “Art was the one place he was able to project this beauty and vision that was not limited by walking, running and talking. It was the one place he could be creative and share who he was. He was completely free to do what he wanted. There were no limitations for him.”

Mr. Stoklosa went on to study art and entrepreneurial studies at the University of Southern Maine. He was a few credits shy of earning his degree and on Tuesday, and Anderson was notified told her son may receive an honorary degree.

While a student, Stoklosa took an internship at The VIA Agency. He was hired almost three years ago and worked as art director on its creative team. He was part of the agency’s recent pitch to handle L.L. Bean’s advertising and marketing campaigns.

Greg Smith, chief creative officer at the agency, said Tuesday that Anderson was a gifted artist and graphic designer who inspired others through his will power and work ethic.

“You take his disease away and his wheelchair away and he was just like the rest of us,” Smith said. “He was such a creative guy. It was purely inspiring.”

Leeann Leahy, chief executive officer of the VIA Agency, said Mr. Stoklosa regularly attended and participated in its monthly program, Free Beer and Fiction, a creative writing and speaking workshop.

“For him to take the time to write a short story was really wonderful,” Leahy said. “He was such a great talent. He brought such joy and spirit and a willingness to overcome and try anything to our agency and community. It was contagious.”

Stoklosa used that grit and determination to overcome the many challenges he faced living with muscular dystrophy.

At age 21, he lost the health care services that allowed him to live at home. With few options available, he moved to the Barron Center in Portland. In the months and years that followed, Stoklosa advocated for changes in housing and direct support services for adults with disabilities. It led to funding for a group home in Scarborough.

At 21, he also lost his ability to breathe on his own. According to his obituary, Stoklosa became the first man at Maine Medical Center to use non-invasive ventilation treatment. He was a pioneer in the use of NIV in Maine, which is now the protocol treatment for young men with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

At the time of his passing, he was living in Portland.

His mother said Stoklosa embraced life and took nothing for granted.

“Every drop of time was the richest gift for him,” she said.

His services will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Cote Funeral Home in Saco. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Most Holy Trinity Church in Saco followed by burial at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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