Honoring a Hero, Judy Heumann

By Marty Lynch

We were very saddened Saturday to note the passing of one of LifeLong Medical Care’s heroes, friends, and early leaders, Judy Heumann.

As you will see in the many obits and testimonials, Judy was considered the mother of the disability rights movement, but for us she was a friend and inspiration and one of our first Board of Directors Chairs at the Over 60 Health Center before it expanded and morphed into LifeLong Medical Care. Judy very early understood that caring for older adults could learn much from the technology and other advances of the Independent Living movement. Judy was one of the first voices recognizing that elder care advocates and disability advocates would be much stronger together when it came to policy change.  

 I thought of her often as the aging and disability communities worked together in California to enact the Master Plan for Aging…and plan for our future together. Judy well understood that most older people would become disabled at some point and benefit from the ADA, access improvements and universal design principles. Despite the well-founded fear that many people with disabilities held for medical care—-think about who controlled people being locked away in institutions—-Judy understood the vision of community health centers to create healthcare controlled by the community and the people served, rather than by large institutions or corporate medicine.   

She even worked to create a partnership between an independent living center and a health center so that disabled people could control their own healthcare. I was proud when years later LifeLong served many adults with mental health and physical disabilities and even opened LifeLong Ashby at the Ed Roberts Center, named after Judy’s colleague and founder of the Independent Living center movement. 

Judy was just an amazing positive advocate for the disabled, for women, and for all of us. We celebrate her and her work. 

PS: The film, Crip Camp, is showing on Netflix. It features the history of the disability rights movement and Judy is one of the stars. It will give you a sense of her commitment, skill, and passion. 

Thank you for your role in building Judy’s vision at LifeLong. 

Marty Lynch, Ph.D., MPA 

CEO Emeritus