Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dr. Felicia Stewart

I am off to Washington, D.C. on Monday morning to participate in a memorial service for Dr. Felicia Stewart. Dr. Stewart was a program director at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs during the Clinton administration, and one of the authors of one of the "Bibles" in the sexual and reproductive health fields, "Contraceptive Technology."

I knew her for a long time. She was fearless in her dedication to women's reproductive health, and she was dedicated to supporting and mentoring younger people in this field. She was elegant, outspoken, and brilliant. I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

She died at the age of 63 a few weeks ago. She died much too soon. One of my favorite memories of her was listening to her give a speech about menopause at a conference, as she laughingly shared with the audience that she was having her own hot flash. She was candid, comfortable, and owned her sexuality.

In preparing my comments for the service, I found out that she had been excommunicated from her cradle religion, the Mormon Church. Knowing how on some deep level the religion of our childhood and faith stay with us, I can only imagine how painful that must have been. And how absurd to think that this church did not want her, for surely she was graced by God in her talents but also in her work in the world. Felicia blessed the world, and those of us who were lucky enough to know her.

To paraphrase a passage from Phillippians –
She was true,
She was honorable.
She was just.
She was lovely…
She was of good report.

If there be any virtue,
And if there be any praise,
Think on her.

Rest in peace, Felicia.

1 comment:

Questing Parson said...

A wonderful tribute.

Grace and peace