We are deeply saddened to bring you news of two deaths in our Massachusetts ME/CFS community: Elizabeth (Libby) Potter and Heather Colman-McGill.
Elizabeth (Libby) Potter
Libby was an active contributor to our Association in spite of a long struggle with ME/CFS. Libby joined our Board in 2012 and remained on the Board until 2018, serving as Vice-President. During that time she worked on many projects, but her primary interest was in educating school nurses about ME/CFS in school-aged children and youth, a project which she initiated. Libby established relationships with the Director of School Health Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Director of the School Health Academy at Northeastern University and coordinated a number of in-person presentations of this material to large and small groups of school nurses. She regularly represented the Association as an exhibitor presenting information on pediatric ME/CFS at school health conferences in Massachusetts. These efforts culminated in new presentations for school nurses in conjunction with the Northeastern University School Health Academy which took place in 2018 and 2019, and have been made into an online course which is available nationally for school nurses, teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators. Over 500 school nurses have been reached through Libby’s efforts. This represents a lasting legacy, benefitting children with ME/CFS and their families now and for years to come.
Libby was also active in advocacy at the state level. She had a close relationship with her State Representative, Theodore Speliotis, initiated meetings at the State House, and helped obtain the first Massachusetts State Proclamation for International ME Awareness Day in 2017. And she was active in her local community of Danvers, helping to save the Porter-Bradstreet house from destruction. Libby's obituary can be found here. We will miss Libby's dedication, enthusiasm, kindness and sense of humour. If you would like to honor Libby's memory, donations may be made in Libby's name to "The General Israel Putnam Chapter Holten House," 171 Holten Street, Danvers, MA 01923.
Heather, environmental scientist and ME warrior, died in November after many years fighting against severe ME. She first developed ME as a teenager, although like many, she was not diagnosed for 20 years. In spite of her health challenges, she earned two degrees in science and worked as a UN consultant on environmental policy. Declining health meant that she had to step back from her career, but she remained a staunch advocate for the environment and for raising awareness about ME. A beautiful tribute to Heather is posted here. In her last days, Heather asked of us "Please be as vocal, public, ferocious as your time permits, in sharing my story...This situation must be heard." There will be a memorial service for Heather on Saturday, March 21, from 2-5 pm at the Friends Meeting House, 5 Longfellow Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138. In lieu of flowers, please support an environmental, animal protection or ME awareness organization. Ones that Heather passionately supported are #MEAction, the Open Medicine Foundation, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Jane Goodall Institute.
Our Association plans to honor the memory of both of these brave women. We will keep you posted on the details.