Our dear friend, Dick Walters used the Vermont Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act to die peacefully on October 16th. Dick’s tireless advocacy and dedication to personal freedom were instrumental in getting the law passed in 2013. Dick was 90 years old and died of cancer.
Death with Dignity: A Basic Human Right
As president of Patient Choices Vermont, our local partner organization in the campaign, Dick believed Death with Dignity was a basic human right.
“Thoughtful, principled people understand the profound importance of securing this human right,” he wrote on our blog. “People who’ve watched a loved one suffer needlessly and pointlessly as I have. People brave enough to look toward their own future, and the dignity with which they hope to end a life well-lived.”
Dick’s journey toward the law’s passage started in his living room, with his wife Ginny and their daughters, Nancy and Betsy, after watching his father suffer a difficult death. “Death with Dignity is a cause I feel in my heart, soul and conscience,” Dick wrote. “It is worthy of every one of us who values life, treasures dignity, and wants never to be told by a stranger or a bureaucrat that our life is not our own, or that suffering is the property of their law or morality.”
“Take a Stand”
Ten years later, Vermont had enacted a Death with Dignity law. Presaging the developments in California, Dick saw the fact that Vermont was the first state to pass such a law in the legislature as very important. And he saw personal involvement as crucial as well: “For your spouse, your parents, your grandparents, your children, your neighbors and yourself, take a stand. Recognize that even a right this personal must be fought for and won.”
Dick, we’ll miss you, the Death with Dignity movement will miss you, and Vermont will miss you.
Please sign this condolence card to Dick’s family (we’ll deliver the signatures to Dick’s wife, Ginny Walters).