In memoriam: lilady

As I write this, I am sadder than I have been for a long time. I recently learned that a frequent commenter here, a woman whose efforts on behalf of children's health I admired greatly, has passed away. I'm referring to the commenter who went by the 'nym lilady and sometimes signed her comments with her first name, Connie. Although I knew her real name and approximately where she lived, I don't want to risk having antivaccine trolls try to contact her family in their time of sadness; so this tribute will refer to her by the online pseudonym by which she became known, lilady.

The first suspicion that something was wrong came two weeks ago, when a commenter left a asked if anyone had seen any comments or heard from lilady. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, but then two days ago another commenter asked the same question, and I started to get a sinking feeling. So I investigated and found that the last time lilady had commented here was on April 15. Not being able to recall a single instance when lilady disappeared for four weeks since she first started commenting here in 2010 I was, at this point, well and truly disturbed. This was not good, could not be good.

So lilady's online compatriots and admirers started investigating. Unfortunately, it was not long before one of them learned that she had passed away in April and that her funeral had already been held. No one has yet learned the circumstances of her death or what happened, but it appears to me that it must have been fairly sudden, because lilady remained active as ever online, and then...just fell silent.

Todd W. over at Harpocrates Speaks has published a tribute to lilady. It's moving, and I really don't have much to add. After recounting her career as a public health nurse, Todd notes:

Lilady has been an active voice online, particularly on the topic of vaccinations. She was often one of the first to respond to anti-vaccine myths on news articles from around the country. I first "met" Lilady over on the blog Respectful Insolence. We eventually corresponded via email, and her passion for science and justice always inspired me. She never shirked from telling the hard truths, even if it meant being perceived as gruff or "mean". And it was amazing to see her in action across the web. Whenever a news story cropped up on autism or vaccines, just as surely as anti-vaccine activists would swoop in to fill the comments with myths and nonsense, you could be sure that Lilady would be there, too, to counter them with science and fact.

And it's true. I'm starting to realize how much she added to the community that has, incredibly enough, formed around this blog. Whenever some new antivaccine troll would show up, spewing the same old antivaccine nonsense as though it were new, as though she had been the first person to think of it, as though scientists hadn't thought about it many times before and refuted it, lilady would be there, slapping down the nonsense so that I wouldn't have to. Don't get me wrong. There are more pro-science advocates here, and I am honored that you call this blog one of your online homes. You take a huge burden off my shoulders, because I barely have time to produce the Insolence that you all know and love and most definitely don't have the time to engage with every antivaccine troll who shows up in the comments. While several of you quite capably handle the trolls so that I can concentrate on producing new material, I will miss lilady, because no one can do it quite like she did. Few are as persistent or knowledgeable. And it wasn't just here, either. Whenever the antivaccine flying monkey brigade from Age of Autism would descend on a news story or blog post to fling antivaccine poo at it, there lilady would go, refuting the nonsense and helping other bloggers feel that they weren't alone facing the deluge of pseudoscience.

What I regret now, as I regret with Mark Probert (and I hope you remember him), is that I never had the opportunity to meet her in person. Now I never will. But I will remember her intelligence, take no bullshit manner and fierce dedication to protecting children.

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I always enjoyed reading Lilady's comments And she would often comment even on the occasional Orac post that didn't blow up with hundreds of commenters.

Surely a great loss for this world.

I am going to miss this wonderful warrior woman that I never met. I always got excited when I saw that she commented and would make sure to read every one. Grateful that we can go back and read them still. I particularly loved when she would spar with Jay Gordon. She always won of course.

By LIsa King (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I had the pleasure of several long email exchanges with Lilady over the years. I always was moved by the way she spoke of her late son, and her "other son".

Here are some of her recent comments on the Disqus platform. . I will miss her virtual company. May her memory be a blessing to all who knew her.

It's truly a sad day for SBM supporters.

Lilady fought valiantly against science deniers despite the outrageously vicious attacks** to which she was subjected.
I know that she was affected by this scorn but still she soldiered on because she realised that she was doing an important service that would benefit children as well as strengthening our cause. She never gave up.

I had hoped that she was merely on another European tour but somehow knew that she would have informed us- I worried that perhaps her husband's heart condition had worsened and that she was pre-occupied helping him but then again, she was loyal- she would tell us.

I raise my glass to her memory and hope that she will be an inspiration to many fledgling sceptics . And I smile remembering that many of her critics were much too dense to even figure out what her 'nym really meant.

** and I'm sure that this will not respectfully discontinue now,
especially at AoA and Jake's ET bs blog.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Lilady was a very private person and it was an absolute honour to be taken into her confidence and be her friend. She remains a role model to me and I will always remember the "five minute" calls that went on for way longer but seemed just five minutes talking about our boys, mainly. I can't write more for tears. Sorry.

Oh no! Not lilady!

I mean, I know we all must go someday, but . . . oh.

It's a bit like when the world found out that Elizabeth Sladen had passed, because it was so sudden. Or . . . well, I had a coworker that I never got to say goodbye to. Last I remember of him was seeing him walking out from work with a jaunty swing in his step, obviously anticipating his upcoming two week vacation. I didn't want to disrupt his clear joy, so I didn't call out to him. Two days later, we got work he was dead. Mowed the lawn, came back inside to rest, never got up again. He'd had a fatal heart attack. Nobody even knew he had a heart condition. I don't think *he* knew.

But lilady . . . oh. She always gave every bit as good as she got, and she was quick with evidence to counter the nuts. And with humor! She was a bright light, and the world is dimmer without her. One thing, though, is that her light is not completely gone. She has ignited lights in many others, and her torch will be carried on.

In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away -- until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone's life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence."
-- Terry Pratchett, "Reaper Man"

lilady's ripples will go on for a very long time.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I will miss her.

I am so very sorry; I will miss lilady's presence, wit, empathy & courage enormously.

Stacy, a fitting tribute to one hell of a public health warrior. I think I will join you

She always gave The Kid and Dr. Jay a case of the red a$$, and for that reason alone, I will join Stacy and Shay.

Proper Johnny
Accept no substitutes

As we work to get our son into supported employment and housing with his disabilities, I will be forever grateful for lilady's encouragement... and for pointing out a book about Willowbrook and the effort made to treat disabled persons humanely.

She always gave me words of encouragement as my son went through heart surgery, and finally getting a proper diagnosis. She will be missed.

"Mark Probert (and I hope you remember him)"

I do. I "met" him on UseNet before I met "Orac." He was also a champion for disabled kids, as he wrote often about his son with cerebral palsy. I miss him too.

Lilady, Connie was a real pal and science warrior. She left me a touching note during my battle to voice the need for HPV vaccines (during my cervical cancer fight) backed me in comment strings fighting anti-vaxxers... and always was kind and respectful no matter the hate slung in her direction. She will be greatly missed.

By Stephanie Hughes (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Her wry sense of humor and pleasant comments will be missed. She was an online voice that was soft but strong, and it hurts my heart to hear that she is gone.

Best wishes and deepest regrets for her family and friends.

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Thank you Stacy I donated to Shot@Life in her memory.

I also donated in her name. She will be greatly missed.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I haven't had the chance to know Lilady anywhere near long enough, but her knowledge, courage, and style were remarkable. I know I learned a lot from her, and on several occasions found her a warm, caring, and thoughtful person. Her passion for speaking up for public health and children she saw harmed was powerful and inspiring. Thank you, Orac, and Todd, for speaking of her so powerfully.

This is incredibly sad.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Sad news indeed. She will truly be missed.
I followed her comments on this blog and many other online sites where she continually shared her hands-on experience as a public health nurse to counter the waves of BS that seem to wash over any discussion of vaccines.

We have many great commenters here, but none who provide that same experience and point of view.

RIP Lilady.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I'm not so much one of the regulars as an occasionally talkative lurker, and even I've got tears in my eyes. Best wishes to her family in what must be a difficult time.

By Emma Crew (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I wish I could send my condolences to her family and friends, but a donation to Shot@Life in her name is all I can do right now. I'm going to miss her kindness and humor and tireless energy working to combat the seemingly endless spew of anti-vaccine sentiments across the internet. Her voice will be deeply missed.

By Sian Williams (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I had noticed her comments missing since I started reading again (when my life gets too crazy I end up missing a few weeks here and there; and I quit reading for awhile at one point because I started trying too hard to make Mr Woo think rationally) and was concerned, but hadn't acquired the courage to ask if anyone knew. She always seemed, to me, to best be described as one who did not suffer fools gladly.

She was a good person, and always made me feel welcome when I would start commenting. I have missed her. My heart goes out to all who knew her better, because their loss is so much deeper than my own.

She will definitely be missed.

In this moment, I'm feeling really shitty remembering our disagreement in regard to ABA therapy of many years ago. I've been wrong and for that, would have loved to serve her, my first beer for which, I would have put in the effort and some more to win the best prizes in the world. Unfortunately, I can't anymore.

She was relentless in the pursuit of caring for peoples all around, putting in a tons of hours to help the wellbeing of all peoples she could help, using science and this is what I call, the sustainable development of the human being with all that entail. She is a role model and will remain so for years, even decades to come. That is something I want to help sustain and I will do whatever it takes to do so.

Rest in peace, lilady. You'll remain tattooed to our collective heart forever :)

Alain

Mrs. Woo! I was wondering where you had gone, and was starting to get a little worried. I'm glad to see you.

I'm very sorry to hear the news about lilady, although I did not know her well. My heart goes out, as Mrs. Woo said, to all who knew her better.

My prayers go out to her and her family.

I really don't know how to say it, but I was really inspired by lilady's posts against quackery and anti-vax liars. I've been thinking about it for a while, and inspired by lilady and the staff at the hospital where I volunteer, I'm deciding to become a nurse in order to help others. I've actually gotten into an accelerated program, I'm just waiting to see what I have to do.

Hopefully, I can contribute as much good as lilady has done...

Thank you Liz for letting me know. I too donated to Shot@Life in her memory. She was a hardass who never let me get away with anything and I'll miss her.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

I am saddened to hear this. A week or so ago, I looked up her Disqus profile to see what she had been up to (she and I were often on the same threads playing whack-a-mole with the antivaxer memes) and notice she hadn't posted for a while. Little did I think this was the reason.

I know I won't be getting any 'insolent' tributes (or any other kind probably) when I cark it and this shows just how special lilady was. Indeed she was so effective that she had her own personal stalker online. As well as a donation in her memory, I will be putting some extra effort into trying to continue the work she did online. It is all very well for us to tackle the few anti-vax liars that turn up here, but there is a whole other world out there where they attempt to real in unsuspecting readers.

RIP- "Pink Book" scholar

Like many others, I would describe myself as a lurker rather than a commenter. I have learnt much over the past few years reading RI, and Lilady's comments have greatly contributed to my education in (particularly) anti-vaccine lunacy. Her thoughtful and comprehensive rebuttals to the flying monkey squads will be sorely missed. Vale Lilady, a beacon of darkness in the wilderness of woo.

By RetroPastiche (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

edit: obviously 'darkness' should be 'light'. Can we please have an edit function?

By RetroPastiche (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Lilady, you will be missed.

I found this small gem pulled from a post of a year or so ago representing her real feeling about parents of children with special needs It's just a brief excerpt taken to show her empathy for families with challenges few of us have to face. It's one of posts that made think the hardest about her and her life. As she spoke out about a murder.

Jay

-------------------------------

"lilady
June 13, 2013

The overwhelming majority of parents I know who have children with severe and profound developmental disabilities, love their children deeply, have rearranged their lives to care for their children and are quite concerned about their children, when the time comes when parents can no longer care for their kids.

These loving parents work tirelessly to change the system, to fight for increased funding/resources for in-home and out-of-home respite care, for medical insurance benefits for therapies that have proven track records to ameliorate self-injurious/self stimming behaviors, for physical, occupational, speech/language therapies and for employment opportunities for those adults who have the ability to work.

And yes, these activist parents advocate for alternative living arrangements, nearby, “right at home, right in the neighborhood”, commensurate with the individual needs of children and adults born with developmental disabilities…so that they can live out their lives with dignity and participate in society

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Oh no. This is heart-breaking news. I can't believe it. I wish I'd told her how much I admired and appreciated her no-nonsense posts. Actually, I think/hope that I may have done so a couple of times.
She always brought my mother to mind as they had a similar sort of wisdom. Mum had polio as a child and went on to nurse for almost 60 years, working as a midwife, ER Charge Nurse, then a vaccinator.

If anyone is in touch with Lilady's family please let them know that she had genuine admirers all over the world - and that she really made a difference, with her calm and reasoned voice- in this mixed-up age where science has to compete with pseudo-science, thanks to all the many online crazies.
I will really miss her,
Louise

By NZ Skeptic (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Oh no. I'm so sorry to hear this. A fiercely intelligent voice for science and reason, but one which always seemed warm-hearted, even when taking no prisoners. My condolences to her friends and family. I'll miss her very much.

x

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 13 May 2015 #permalink

Very sad news indeed. I am an irregular commenter here, so beyond a few comments back and forth I did not have any contact with her, but having read this blog for many years I got very used to reading and enjoying her comments, for their knowledge and direct experience with the issues that so often came up here. She will be greatly missed.

I've been unable to keep up with RI for some time but when I saw this post appear in my RSS reader I just had to come back - I'm so sorry to hear this news. Lilady and I didn't talk much but I was always impressed with her tenacity and dedication. I often wonder where people get the strength to daily combat the woo and the trolls and it was always clear that for Lilady it was all in the name of her son(s). My condolences to her family, friends and all who knew her.

Lilady was a wonderful woman , and I proud to have been one of her comrades-in-arms for vaccine advocacy.

She will be sorely missed, and my sympathies to her loved ones.

Lilady invested an enormous amount of time (and, I'm sure, emotional energy) into confronting and dismantling antiscience claims, and while it seems like a Sisyphean task, I think it's been critical in ensuring that casual readers understand that the knee-jerk antivaccine activists who infest the comments of news articles and blogs do not represent science, the majority of parents, or common sense.

Lilady's energy was amazing.
So sorry her voice will only live on in memory.

She always gave The Kid and Dr. Jay a case of the red a$$, and for that reason alone, I will join Stacy and Shay.

Indeed. Her talent for puncturing balloons of self-importance was legendary.

I only had the opportunity to interact with her here and on some of the other blogs and posts - fighting the good fight for children & against the misinformation, misrepresentations & lies out there.....she was such as strident opponent to the anti-vax lies that she even managed to have her own stalker....

At the end of the day, she'll be missed & my sincerest condolences to her friends and family.

It also occurs to me. With more and more of our lives being spent in virtual communities, this sort of thing is going to happen more and more often: A member dying and no one realizing it for weeks, until enough time has passed that the person's presence is missed and people start asking around.

So sad. She was one who understood when I stated to an ugly troll that my daughter was proud of her autism. She got that right away and helped defend the statement. She will be missed.

Deepest sympathy for Lilady's families on-line and IRL. Her real-life extended family of people she has helped must be very large indeed.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Lilady was a mensch.

My sympathy to her family and friends.

So sorry to hear this. My sympathies for all who knew and loved lilady. I am a longtime lurker and have learned so much from her and from all of you.

By i only lurk (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Yes Lilady seemed to be a nice person and she will be missed. Sad news indeed.

Thank you for posting this, Orac. I will really miss lilady. She was always a great commenter, never backing down in her efforts to protect people. RIP, lilady. The world has lost an advocate for children.

I'm so sorry to hear of her loss. I liked her comments, and a bit of light has gone out of the world.

At times I worry that I'm spending too much time on line fighting dangerous nonsense, but liliady's shining example reminds us all that this is important work. She was a giant.

By palindrom (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Another longtime lurker who will miss liliady's comments.

By NikkiLynn (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I'll light my virtual candle for lilady. Her love was fierce, her intelligence vibrant. She was an inspiration.

Thanks for posting this, Orac. Lilady was such a powerful advocate for others. She embodied the idea that truth and justice require eternal vigilance.

To echo what you said, how many of our community will simply vanish, leaving the rest to wonder what happened?

My sympathies to lilady's family. I will certainly miss her.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

One other thing, I think that the donations to Shot@Life are a wonderful way to pay tribute to lilady. Likewise, organizations that advocate for support and legal reforms for the disabled.

I'm also trying to find out if her family had anything they had in mind for tributes to her. I'll update my post if I hear anything back.

I lost my eldest brother this week, so I was already sad, and now I a bit sadder. I'll miss the vicarious pleasure of watching lilady intellectually eviscerate some poor sap who made the mistake of crossing her on a matter of nursing or public health. I had a lot of time for lilady; she could be prickly, but would thaw instantly on the rare occasions she made a mistake. I also admired the way she dealt with the many insults that were aimed her way by various idiots.

As Orac noted, this is likely to be an increasing problem. I have already lost several on-line friends that I never met face to face. Perhaps leaving a letter with one's will, to be posted to a list of places on-line - blogs, FB, Twitter etc., could be a solution; a social media will as it were.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Krebiozen: yeah, I'm planning on doing that. I'm going to write a Last Post with instructions to my sister to put it up on my two blogs in the event of my demise.
Also, you reminded me of what happened when Terry Pratchett died. Three tweets on his Twitter Feed announced his death.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I never had the pleasure of interacting with lilady, but I always looked forward to reading her comments. I wish we had "met" online sooner.

Requiescat In Pace.

By Shadowflash (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

My heartfelt sympathies to her friends and family. Her intelligence, spirit and warmth shone out from just about every comment she wrote, and I'm very grateful that I had the chance to know her through them. She was a truly exceptional person, and an exemplary one. She'll be sadly missed.

I'm so sorry to hear this. She is missed

Thanks for the post, Orac... This is indeed a sad day. I've been following this blog and others related to this one for many years and would always stop to read her comments.

She will be missed.

By Chadwick Jones (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

RIP Lilady. A sad day indeed :(

I'm not really a regular commenter, though I've definitely made a few posts over the last few months, so I never had the pleasure of having any real exchanges with Lilady. However, I've always enjoyed reading her comments and seeing her deal with people who I simply would not have had the patience to continue putting up with. As such, I'm deeply saddened by her passing and all of our collective loss of such a great mind and person.

This is terrible news. I'm gutted.

I haven't had a chance to read the comments yet, but has the notion of running a charity fundraiser in her memory been mentioned?

@Johanna

Some people are giving to Shot@Life. I'm also trying to find out if there's anything her family had in mind. Hopefully I'll hear back.

@Johanna - several people have made donations to Shot@life in lilady's name. I will do it myself later today.

Sad news--my first thought was how sorely she will be wished, and to offer her friends and family my heartfelt sympathy.

My second thought was that we're all really going to have to step up our game--we have a huge pair of shoes to fill.

Add another less-than-infrequent commenter to the condolence list. Oh, if I could but have a fraction of a percent of Lilady's gumption and expertise to carry on the good fight...

She will be sorely missed. *SIGH*

By Scottynuke (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I am also saddened to hear this. I haven't been around a lot lately, but I always loved the way that Lilady was willing to mix it up. She went after it everywhere.

It's interesting how we view people on-line. I always thought Lilady reminded me of the old English nurse who served juice and cookies when I used to give blood back in college. She told stories of being a nurse in WW2. But that is how I've always pictured her in my head.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Lilady was a friend and I will miss her deeply. I hope her family knows what an inspiration and tough proponent of children's health she was.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Another longtime occasional lurker/rare commenter here, wanting to express my sympathy for all of you. She will be missed.

@Krebiozen I am so sorry to hear about your brother, as well.

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Not to be even more of a downer, but does anyone know if Elburto is okay? We haven't heard from her in a long time either.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I am so sorry to hear this. I will miss lilady.

My condolences to her family and friends.

@Julian Frost: IIRC Elburto had said she was stepping away from the internet for a while due to issues with internet access as well as her health. But you're right...we haven't had comments from her either.

AS most of you may probably already know, there is a plot abroad to eradicate polio worldwide ...
donations towards that cause might be a fitting tribute to lilady.

@ Krebiozen:
I'm truly sorry for your loss

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Count me among the lurkers. This is sad news indeed. She was tireless in her advocacy for both science-based medicine and disabled children. I have also donated to Shot@Life.
@Krebiozen You and your family have my condolences too.

In addition, I think that elburto may have been upset by being outted in the net. I hope that she's well and will figure out a way to appear- perhaps with a new 'nym.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Love and peace to lilady's family and friends, including the online ones.

I am saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Lilady. Her contributions to so many discussions will be missed. I was fortunate to have some brief exchanges via comments on blogs with Lilady (I too, have lost a son) and was just as impressed at her empathy as I was of her intellect. RIP Lilady. We never met and I will never know who you were. But I will miss you. My sincere condolences to all who loved you.

By Scott Bunkelmann (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Absolutely shocked and saddened to read this. How I admired her knowledgeable posts, her wonderful tireless advocacy for vaccines, her marvellous takedowns of anti-vaxxers across the 'net. RIP lilady.

By Janerella (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I still remember Mark with fondness and maintain my friendship with Facebook profile.

Lilady's absence will be hard to fill. My condolences to her real world and Internet families.

Shot@Life is a UN funded organization that provides access to four vaccines for poor kids in developing nations. Those four vaccines are polio, pneumonia, rotavirus and measles. Those diseases still sadly kill and injure many children who lack access to life saving vaccines.

They help provide vaccine access at minimal cost for governmental organizations, educate local health care workers and assist in advocacy efforts.

You can get involved in helping them by donating and engaging in American advocacy efforts such as calling your local reps and writing media pieces to help make others aware of the need to fund vaccines . I am an advocate and champion for them. I thank everyone who has donated to this organization. They stand for everything Lilady devoted her life to doing so well!

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I too wish I had told lilady how much respect I had for her. I'd like to think she inferred it. The world has lost a great one, and that's always extra tragic.

She was always amazing at saying the perfect thing. It always appalled me how extra mean and misogynistic some of the trolls were with her, but that did serve to reinforce how awful they were as people, how their professed concern about other people's well being was fake, and that she was really getting to them.

@Mrs. Woo:
So glad to see you back! I messed you. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

By justthestats (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Deepest sympathies to Lilady's family and friends. I admired her courage.

Krebiozen, I'm sorry your brother has passed away.

This is so sad.
My heart goes out to those who have shared in her life...virtual and for real.
Oh my, she was one of those posters where I always made a point to read what she had to say -- her entries were always well-said and valuable. I learned a lot from her and totally respected her. RIP Lilady...

I will miss lilady's insightfyk posts and her impeccable sense of timing, and how she was always ready to go to the mat for science. My sympathies to everyone who knew her.

By SelenaWolf (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I've only known of this site for about 4 months, in that time, I posted the story of almost losing my son to a vaccine-preventable illness and lilady was one of the few commenters who wrote to me directly and told me she was glad my son survived. Her knowledge and passion on the subject of vaccines was very instrumental in tearing down all the anti-vax lies I'd been fed through the years. I will gladly donate to Shot@Life in her name.

By Still Shaking Mama (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I'm sorry to hear this. I collect quotes from all over the internet, and keep them referenced with the author's (user)name and the source, and her name comes up again and again and again in my collection.

Folks, you may want to keep a listing of your social media usernames and passwords, as well as any blogs or forums you hang out on, somewhere where your friends/family can get at it after you die, to prevent your online friends from only finding out about your death because you go radio-silent for long enough that people get worried and start checking around.

By Interrobang (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

This is very sad indeed. I used to look out for her comments on here and left brain / right brain. She always made such good sense and as sad as it is that she's gone I'm grateful that I was able to have been informed and educated by her words.

I think that lilady would have been very happy to learn that the California Senate just passed SB277 by a vote of 25-10.

Krebiozen, I'm really sorry to hear about your brother.

Woohoo!

She would be extremely happy.

YESSSS!!! AWESOME!!!
At times like these, I wish we had the option to "like" comments on Science Blogs.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I never had the privilege to meet lilady in person, but when I first started participating in the online pro-vaccine community she was the one who inspired me to take the fight wherever misinformation is being spread and not confine myself to "safe," pro-science blogs and websites. I'm a very "out of sight, out of mind" type of person, even with my immediate family, so it says a lot about how prolific lilady was and the strength of her online presence that even I noticed her absence. I've already donated to Shot@Life, but of course I didn't have an e-mail address to send the tribute e-mail to. I'm sure I don't even need to ask, but if one of you who knows her family finds out anything about a memorial page or e-mail account where we can send condolences, tributes, etc., please post the info. I'm sure it would comfort her family to know how many lives lilady touched with her online activism.

@Tod W. #93

WOOT! I usually try to refrain from metaphysical speculation, but I can't help but hope that somewhere, somehow, lilady is doing a fist-pump right now.

Taken aback and very sad to hear this. Lilady did so much to tackle mendacity and ignorance. I just looked back to private emails she sent me a few years ago. She was tireless.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I've been reading Insolence a long time now, as much for the comments as the posts. No reflection on Orac, certainly! - it's just that the comments are equally entertaining and eminently educational. Indeed, I rarely comment because I've come to think of this blog as a terrific class I monitor for the sheer joy of it. And all this time, lilady has been a part of what is so special about this blog. She will be greatly missed.

I just donated to Shot@Life on her behalf.

Kreb: So sorry for your and your family's loss.

RIP lilady. :(

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Also need to echo others' comments to Krebiozen. Very sorry for your loss. Let us know if there's anything we can do.

A truly sad day. She will be missed.

By machintelligence (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

As the person who made the unhappy discovery, all I can add to the foregoing is that, from the timing, it looks very much as though she went out still fighting away.

Just hearing of lilady's passing, I am in shock. She was awesome, whenever I saw her name in the comments I knew what followed was going to be a great point.

So saddened by this loss. :(

Such a shame. I too will donate to Shot@life
Nice to have known you Lilady, we gave them hell over on Disqus, and I'll carry on in your memory.

Nothing to say that has not already been said more eloquently than I could.

She will be missed.

A scintillating wit, and one of a handful of commenters here that encouraged me to scroll past the main post.

I'll miss her voice, too.

My sympathies to lilady's family and friends.

She possessed the right amount of knowledge, compassion, and insolence to combat the plague of anti-science lunatics.
It seemed she didn't suffer fools gladly but, because of her personal experience, she was very caring and protective of disabled children. You could almost see her hair bristle as she responded to some heartless parent who dared to disrespect their own child.

Her posts were a joy to read and she will be truly missed.

I, too, have donated to increase vaccine coverage. My choice was Unicef,

New Mother Pack
$35
Ensure babies get a better start in life by helping their mothers protect them before birth. Mothers will receive HIV testing and tetanus vaccines to protect children from life-threatening diseases that can be contracted during pregnancy or birth.
INCLUDES
24 HIV tests
24 tetanus vaccines

By Broken Link (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

And should I add that I will miss her terribly. I only hope that her family, including her "other son" is aware of how much she was loved - by people she had never met. It's a great gift she has given to all of us.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I wonder if White&Nerdy is aware. He was one of those standing with Lilady in the cause of science and logic.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

My heart goes out to her friends and family. I read this blog most days but very rarely leave a comment. Lilady was a star contributor and part of a community I have come to admire. Condolences to her loved ones.

I'm only a very occasional commenter, but I'm a regular reader of this blog and the NSSOB, and I will add my condolences. She will be greatly missed.

By Nick Theodorakis (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I am very sad to read about this. She was a lovely person in so many ways, and such a compassionate advocate.

What a fiery, passionate, eloquent presence she was. This knocked the wind out of me when I saw it on Facebook. I'm so sorry for both her families.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Sad news. My heart goes out to her family & friends. I don't recall interacting with Lilady directly, but I saw her comments, and she was always smart and on-point and a strong advocate. She was one of the best here.

I'm mostly a lurker, but this is the blog I go to if I have questions about vaccinations. There are always several helpful responses to my queries (what a great community you've amassed, Orac) and if there was one commenter I could rely on for a thorough and accurate response, it was lilady. It is this world's great loss, for sure. My heart is heavy tonight.

By Jessica Sager (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I can't recall if it was here or at lbrb.But a few years ago,when I was not quite as high functioning as I am now,and I did not have all of the answers as I do now,I said something to lilady that caused her to open up a can of whoop a$$ on me.It was strong stuff,and it stung a lot,I never forgot it.As time went on,I saw that she was right,and I needed what lilady dished out

That was what we all loved about lilady.She cared deeply about children's health.About those with developmental disabilities.About those with rare diseases,and she didn't take any stuff from anybody.Those of us who shared web forums with lilady,came to think of her as family.That wise old aunt,that you may not have always agreed with,but in your heart you knew was right.Lilady you will be missed more than you could ever know.Your passing has created a void that will be very difficult to fill. :(

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

Such sad news, I admired Lilady very much - her knowledge, her commitment and determination with regards to caring for and protecting kids was a standard that I aspire to.
I will miss her comments as I looked forward to reading them, and I will miss her no-nonsense way with trolls.
Condolences to her loved ones, family, and friends. Such a loss.
Rest in Peace.

I only knew her from her posts, as most of us did, but I admired and respected her, and had a crush on her great brain.
Shocked and saddened.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

I frequent this site. Sometimes I surface & comment. Others generally have it covered better than I do. As today, above. Lilady was preeminent that way. Before this small note I went to Shot@life to add my drop in the bucket.
And thanks to Orac & the minions for the teaching - and entertainment. This site is one of my favorites.

Krebiozen, I am truly sorry to read about your brother's death. I have 3 sisters with whom I am close; I cannot imagine the loss. May his memory be a blessing to you.

Perhaps leaving a letter with one’s will, to be posted to a list of places on-line – blogs, FB, Twitter etc., could be a solution; a social media will as it were.

I've just ginned up a list of the accounts I use regularly with instructions on how to access those accounts for the folk who are responsible for my affairs should I become incapable, together with some hints as to how to guess passwords...

I am saddened to learn that the world has lost such a tireless hero, a voice of reason in the darkness of the antivaxers crusade.

By LurkeyLoo (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

She and I had awesome conversations in here.

By David N. Andre… (not verified) on 14 May 2015 #permalink

On the 12th, Rene (aka EpiRen) e-mailed me and informed me quite gently that Lilady had passed away.
I was at work, at a security operations center and honestly, very little was done for the rest of the night. Thankfully, my shift partner took the load up without complaint.
Even now, my eyes are moist, for she was indeed a treasure. Not a national treasure, but a treasure for the entire world.

Those who "know" me (online) and those who actually know me (in real life) tend to think I'm quite tough, emotionally. I've lost many, many friends and comrades in arms over my long military career. I've lost friends outside of the military as well. Loss has been a companion over the decades.
But, those who actually know me know, special and few are those I do devote some attachment to, attachment that causes me emotional turmoil that could impact me operationally.
I am quite literally at the point now where, when filling our the E-QIP forms for my renewal of my clearance, I'm challenged to find a third friend who has known me for seven years.
Yeah, my life has been *that* interesting.

Lilady made the cut.
Her professional clarity, her clear, concise and cutting remarks were indeed treasures of the world.
Her kindness was also a treasure.
Her courage and candor exceeds that of any of my peers in my life.
After only a few viewings of her comments, she is the *only* Discus member I actually clicked follow on.

If I had one godlike wish to be fulfilled, it would be singular.
To have known Connie as a real life friend.

Shit. I'm actually crying.
I haven't done that in decades.
Since adulthood, this will be the fifth time I've cried when remembering someone who died.
That counts both of my parents.

Connie's "chewing out" was precious. I've only known *one* commissioned officer who could pull that one off in a similar manner.
No condescending manner, no insult to intelligence, no ad hominem nonsense, not taking it personally.
Just a "gentleman's chewing out", with cold, hard facts repeated.
She was one classy, wise and knowledgeable human.
The sun will feel much less warm for her loss.

These are very sad news. Lilady was a clear voice of reason and someone I always admired for her energetic, logical and still kind writing against the irrational nonsense of pseudo-medicine. She will be missed by many, but we can try and keep her spirit alive.

By StrangerInAStr… (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

Oh that makes me really sad! I didn't post much here, but I always enjoyed reading her take downs. She will be missed.

Roger Kulp @122:
That was what we all loved about lilady.She cared deeply about children’s health.About those with developmental disabilities.About those with rare diseases,and she didn’t take any stuff from anybody.

Just repeating that because I can't say anything better.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

I will miss lilady's well-reasoned and pungent posts.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

Very sad, and a great loss to the reality-based community.

Requiescat in pace. Very sorry to hear it; her posts were always thought provoking :'(

Gathering my thoughts after a few days....

Lilady accomplished something that neatly illustrates my own quest since I finished formal studies which is to help other adults continue with their own**.

As you may know, people learn and develop throughout their lifetimes, occasionally in profound ways, but those who wish to follow this path in universities often are plagued by necessity to put aside their desire to instead work, raise a family and manage daily affairs. It's not easy, and in the past decades, it's got worse as governments cut into education funds and prices rose alarmingly at times.

Crowning this dire situation are those who would - despite their paucity of meaningful qualifications- teach and lead followers in order to satisfy their own unquenchable need for control and accolade, splattering their whimsy-based nonsense willy nilly over the internet as far and wide as the eye can read, and perhaps, having just enough insight into others to discern that people DO want to learn and understand the world, their fellows and themselves. This perversion of education often pays for mansions and opulent lifestyles by tricking the unwary into purchasing goods and services -as well as padding already overblown egos.

Our friend, lilady, was one of those stalwart beings who bravely stepped into this morass to correct those blathering University of G--gle professors, self-appointed counselors and self-styled medical advisors who pontificate ceaselessly on whatever subjects they suspect with gather an audience. She led readers towards reliable information and avenues of higher education- one reference at a time. And sometimes, she told people off briskly in her inimitable fashion.

I've referred to lilady as the antidote to Ann Dachel and warrior mothers who misrepresent science and may even endanger children. I'm really glad that I told her so quite a few times. She will inspire others to carry on.

** some of my formal work involves this as well as my internet activities.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

This is devastating news. She was an absolute inspiration, and it was a privilege to know her.

She's left an amazing legacy in her wake. Her fight against abusive institutions changed hundreds of lives, and even if her vaccination activism saved just one life? Then it was worth all the pushback she received over the years. As it is, I'm sure many lives have been touched by her devotion to the scientific smack down of the anti-vax crowd!

Connie - you were an absolute legend, and the world is worse off without you. You will be missed.

elburto, it is good to hear back from you. You have also been missed. We hope all is well for you.

elburto, did I say the magic word?**

Your appearance may be the silver lining in a very dark cloud and your return is appreciated greatly.

** willy nilly perhaps?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

elburto! Glad to hear from you, though the circumstances are sad. Hope you are doing well.

As a mostly-lurker here, I never really interacted with lilady; but she definitely made the comments sections a better place. I'll miss her.

By Carl Witty (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

So sad to hear this. She will be missed.

I guess that answers my question above about elburto. It's a relief to hear from you once again.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

As a long-time lurker and occasional poster to this site, I will miss her.

Rest in peace, lilady.

Now I am crying at work. I probably would have cried anyway but pregnancy hormones have made it certain. I will miss reading her comments. Still working in the trenches of PH myself, I have known many like her, but she will be ever unique in her warrior spirit. I will miss her comments dearly. it is left to us to carry on the good fight. Hopefully we can do her legacy some justice.

I'm so sorry to hear about lilady. My condolences to her family and friends.

I've been lurking here for many years. In that time, I have learned so much from her. Lilady was a great voice, and she will be greatly missed.

My sympathies for lilady's family and to Krebiozen for your brother. Mostly, I lurk, but I always liked to read lilady's comments

By e canfield (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

If we could all resolve to create an alert for antivax, or provax news, and then only once a week wade into the comment section and add a bit of fact based information, we would collectively continue to carry out Lilady's mission. Who else is with me?

By Broken Link (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

Elburto, good to hear from you.

Lilady was relentless in her pursuit of the flying monkeys.

@Elburto

Her fight against abusive institutions changed hundreds of lives

I had forgotten about that. - good to hear from you again.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 15 May 2015 #permalink

One always hopes that digital disappearances are temporary and mundane.

<3 lilady

By roninsheep (not verified) on 16 May 2015 #permalink

Like many others I rarely post and if I do it's usually an anecdote, or a scary story about medicine and nursing in the 70's.
My usually irrelevant posts have always been met with good humour and none more so than by Lilady.
I'm just glad I got to know her name.
Fair Winds and Following Seas Connie, there's now a hole which we will all struggle to fill.

oh I am so sad over this, I will miss Lilady so much. I don't post much but have been reading Insolence and the comments for years.
Thank you for this post, Orac.

So very sad. lilady was often the lone voice of reason in mainstream news comment threads. I remember a couple weeks ago some people were commenting that they hadn't seen her around recently. I can't believe it was the worst case.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 16 May 2015 #permalink

I'm mostly a lurker. I'm sad about her death and will miss her comments.

Rest in peace, lilady, and thank you.

One of the top five at Respectful Insolence.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 17 May 2015 #permalink

Do her family members know about this thread? Shouldn't they? It would be a shame for them to miss these comments....

By Harold Gaines (not verified) on 17 May 2015 #permalink

Sadly, elsewhere on the internet, Cia Parker and her acolytes are gloating.

@Harold Gaines

I've written to her family to let them know about it.

Lol karma is a bitch and so was she ..she wasn't private lol she hid behind her name that was it..she was a hateful piece of garbage

By Eric jones (not verified) on 18 May 2015 #permalink

That is quite sad. I usually skim most comments, but there were a good handful of people that I'd stop to read carefully, and lilady's comments were always in that group. It feels like I've lost a colleague I actually knew although I haven't even interacted with her in comments.

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 18 May 2015 #permalink

I mostly lurk here, but I am so sad to hear of lilady's passing. She had both passion and compassion, and I have no doubt that she did much good.

Eric jones - didn't anyone ever tell you not to speak ill of the dead? What a vile thing to write.

By moto_librarian (not verified) on 18 May 2015 #permalink

@moto_librarian

Well, what else would you expect from the typical anti-vaxxer? Empathy isn't one of their strong points.

#165 -- some people will go to their graves, unlike lilady, knowing that they have never made a difference.

Oh. No.

I've been away for a while and just now saw this. Lilady was a fierce, knowledgeable, and amazing commenter, I always read her with pleasure. So sad, she will be missed.

Sigh.

By kultakutri (not verified) on 26 May 2015 #permalink

I've been a lurker on here for the longest time, and the news of lilady's passing was a shock. From what I saw, she was a tireless fighter for the rights of disabled people as well as to protect children from the horrors of disease. May she rest in peace.

By Anon Unseen (not verified) on 26 May 2015 #permalink

I am very sorry to hear this. I am also basically a lurker and "got to know" her during the Alex Spordalakis tragedy. So sorry to hear this news.

By A mom who can … (not verified) on 01 Jun 2015 #permalink

I've been away and so missed the post until now. I'm very saddened by lilady's passing. She was truly one of the great trench-warriors in the battle with the anti-vaxers. Her strength, with and, above all, perseverance will be missed.

I too somehow missed this. What I loved about her was how succinct her arguments always were. She always knew how to ferret out the weak spot and strike hard.

I just hope that her passing was peaceful...

"Eric jones – didn’t anyone ever tell you not to speak ill of the dead? What a vile thing to write."

This one of the main reasons why I champion science and skeptical inquiry. I've noticed that there is far more integrity and objectivity as compared to those who are anti-science for whom the end almost always justifies the means.

Disparaging character is all they have since their 'science' failed long ago...

Very sad to hear this news. I rarely over to RI much at all these days as with increasing time restraints, I decided to focus my efforts more on what was happening in Australia.

When I have visited RI, I have always been heartened, and reassured, to note lilady's (along with many other competent long time regulars) contributions throughout the comments.
lilady always put in a massive amount of effort, she did her "homework" and always gave a hundred and ten per cent . A dedicated and capable front line warrior against the anti-vaxx cult's repetitive regurgitation of ignorance and pseudoscience. I was also a big fan of her no BS style approach.

Rest in Peace lilady, you will be greatly missed.

By Sauceress (not verified) on 13 Jun 2015 #permalink

I've been a lurker at SBM and Orac's blog for many years, and after the birth of my son became very involved with Dr. Amy's community. Recently my disease has become worse and so I've been offline for the most part. I enjoyed lilady so very much. Her commentary was biting, effortless illuminating, and showed a great respect for those most injured by quackery, especially as it applied to children's health. I rarely comment here as I don't feel I've earned my chops, yet, but I consider many of you teachers and mentors, enjoy it when you say what I can't quite put together, and better yet, have endless respect for the hours of volunteerism that accompanies the passion to protect the vulnerable-- the patient. I've been sick now for too long, watching SBM being replaced by CAM that the government won't pay for but the doctors refer to because half of them are drinking the woo juice, and the other half are desperate to offer something instead of a 3 year wait list, while you get worse. Lilady was a great protector of children. May she rest in place. I'm going to go read one of my favourite internet moments again, where she goes head to head with that slime "Dr" Jay...

I hope lilady was well enough to enjoy Dr. Oz's public skewering of late. We should never forget that our work matters.

By thepragmatist (not verified) on 21 Jun 2015 #permalink