National NOW Times >> Spring 2002 >> Article
In Memoriam: NOW Honors Three Dedicated Activists
Remembered by Judith Knee and friends
The NOW community lost a dear friend and a fierce advocate for civil justice last year. Pat Brown, age 62, died August 29, 2001, after a brief hospitalization in Los Angeles. She had recently moved to L.A. to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
Pat's NOW history starts with many years as an activist in Indianapolis NOW and Indiana NOW and includes being the national Lesbian Rights Committee (CIC) Chair, member of the National Board of Directors representing the Southwest Region, and State Coordinator of New Mexico NOW.
Trained as a nurse, Pat combined her healing arts with her feminism. She worked at Planned Parenthood during the 1970s and early 1980s, where she succeeded in getting counseling introduced for abortion clients just after Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. Pat then moved to Farmington, New Mexico, where she worked as a nurse on the Navajo reservation. Prior to her move to Los Angeles, Pat worked for several agencies coordinating home health care for AIDS patients in Washington D.C.
Pat was a powerful life force, a caring and compassionate woman with a fierce sense of what was right and wrong, just and unjust, and what she could do to help. In short, Pat was a feminist's feminist. She was very proud of her children, Eric, Christine and Dennis, adored her eight grandchildren, and was devoted to her friends, all of whom miss her deeply.
When Connecticut NOW leader Betty Spalding died in October 2001 at age 80, her death affected many. It was a loss to all who knew her and, more widely, to those who were beneficiaries of her work for women.
Two phrases were characteristic of Betty. "What are we going to do about ...?" and "What can I do to help?" Together they expressed her attitude in NOW she assumed she could do something and she was prepared to do it.
Betty's advocacy took many forms and covered decades. In the early years of NOW she chaired the National Task Force on the Family, one of 28 task forces. She believed task forces were important in drawing attention to problems for women. As she said in an oral history, "You take a particular matter of concern to women, you start a task force ... work on it for couple of years. Then it sets up its own energy ... and women get involved who are not necessarily members of NOW. That's the way the women's movement has happened."
Betty Spalding led Connecticut's delegation to the 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston. The meeting was the first of this kind since the Woman's Rights Convention of 1848. Later, she was a charter member of Connecticut's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. For Connecticut NOW, Bett presided over the Hartford chapter, headed the Family Justice Committee, and tirelessly advocated for women lobbying, developing strategies, organizing.
Betty once defined a feminist as "someone who will look toward equality of rights first, and that is their priority." By that or any other definition, Betty Spalding was a feminist who set the standard. We all gained from the example and the work of her commitment to "equality of rights."
Patricia D. Varieur, age 51, died Tuesday October 9, 2001. Pat was a leading community activist, organizer and educator in Columbus, Ohio, as well as a NOW leader on the state and national levels. She was deeply committed to equality for women, whether in the statehouse or on the basketball court.
Throughout her life, Pat demonstrated her strong support for NOW. Her involvement included serving on the National Board and the Communications Committee, as a National Conference Coordinator, and several terms as Columbus NOW president, Ohio NOW Vice President Action and Treasurer. Pat helped organize numerous press conferences, rallies, and meetings that supported abortion rights, fought violence against women, and celebrated women's herstory.
Pat was also instrumental in creating the Columbus NOW Political Action Committee and worked hard as a volunteer for city council and state representative candidates who believed in NOW's agenda. She created the highly informative Columbus NOW web site and the Great Lakes Region web site. She was on the cutting edge, leading the discussion for on-line chapters and creating the Ohio E Team as a mode for Internet membership.
One of Pat's special interests was girls' and women's sports. She created the Ohio Gender Equity Coalition that focused on equality in education, and worked with state legislators, women coaches, and the community to increase awareness of Title IX. Pat is survived by her mother, Betty Ann Varieur, as well as sisters, nieces and nephews with whom she loved to share her feminist beliefs. Pat's death was sudden and unexpected, and she will be missed in the fight for equality. Gladys Taber wrote, "We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach the infinite. Time to be."
Actions | Join - Donate | Chapters | Members | Issues | Privacy | RSS | Links | Home
© 1995-2012 National Organization for Women, All Rights Reserved. Permission granted for non-commercial use.