Remembering Paul Spiers

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The Death with Dignity National Center honors an important leader and advocate, Paul Spiers, who died yesterday in Massachusetts. Along with his unwavering support for Death with Dignity, Paul was an avid horseman and a gifted scholar, reflecting his widely varying interests and activities.

Paul was one of the first people who called me when I was named Executive Director of the National Center. He welcomed me to the job and quickly offered his assessment of the movement. I faced a steep learning curve in my new job, and he carefully helped me understand the complexities and nuances inherent in the issues I would face. We both had careers in healthcare without being direct care providers, and we both had personal reasons for being involved with the Death with Dignity movement. We had a respectful and productive relationship from nearly day one.

Paul helped start the organization Autonomy, which represents the interest of people with disabilities in their efforts to exercise choice in all aspects of their lives—including at the end of their lives. He was the President of End-of-Life Choices, a former organization in the Death with Dignity movement, and he helped me understand how all the organizations in the movement fit together…a complicated feat!

Most recently, I had the honor of serving with Paul on the Dignity 2012 Steering Committee for the Massachusetts Death with Dignity ballot initiative effort. We met together week after week, and I came to appreciate his wisdom, scientific approach to problems, and his deep passion for the cause.

Paul was generous with his time, supporting our organization, and other organizations in the Death with Dignity movement, as well as various disability rights and equestrian/therapeutic horsemanship programs. He will be deeply missed by those in all of the communities he served.

We have created a memories page for his friends and family members to share their stories. Please share your memories of Paul here or in the comments section below.

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