Laura E. Williams, 1945-2011
Disability Community Mourns the Loss of Laura Williams
Laura Elaine Williams, a stalwart advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, died unexpectedly on Wednesday, July 6th 2011. She was just 65. Ms. Williams was known and respected for her work on behalf of people with disabilities and seniors, including the state’s compliance of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead Decision and passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. She was a constant voice and visible presence at State Capitol hearings and meetings on issues including In-Home Supportive Services, developmental services, access to public accommodations for children and adults with disabilities, mental health needs, and issues involving seniors. Most recently, Laura participated at the Olmstead Advisory Committee in April, offering many comments regarding the need for the state to move aggressively toward full compliance of the landmark decision.
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From Susan Chandler:
I know that she was a fierce believer in people’s civil rights and once she made up her mind it was very hard (read impossible) to change it. Her daughter told me that the picture they used for their celebration of life was when Mark was 15! I thought it was when she had graduated HS!!! She said that she had been able to participate in an MS trial, getting injections for several years which really helped with her MS. They even traveled to Europe, and she could walk all over. Then when they discontinued them almost overnight she became aged overnight.
She was an intelligent person and loved to calculate things (she did this at her job before) like membership numbers. That is why we kept going; she would say if we got all the members to renew we would have the money we needed to operate! She was right, when we got high renewal rates we had enough income! She slowly took on way too much and the organization suffered as a result. She was fond of the “Heritage” members she knew of and wouldn’t take them off the membership list even when they were way past due on paying their dues.
She was very frugal and took the Amtrak train and bus from Glendora and back to Sacramento many times. This took a long time and she stayed at the Sacramento Hostel which was the cheapest way to go, but she enjoyed it. When I lived in West Sacramento, she sometimes came and stayed with me using the bus to get back and forth.
We even got the city of W. Sac to change the push button location at the light for the crossing. She also liked to cook and made lovely Mexican food she had learned from her mother-in-law for my family and a Chapter 22 meeting we had. At the Sac rally in 2006 she wanted to dress up as a witch, but HolLynn who had organized it said she didn’t want to give them any ideas and vilify us even more! She had a playful sense about her sometimes.