During the 20th anniversary of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act in 2017, I published a story in the Philomath Express that detailed the end-of-life challenges that terminally-ill Ben Wald, a Kings Valley resident, had gone through leading up to his death in 2012.
Lynne Terry of the Oregonian (you may recognize her name from the Oregon Capital Chronicle stories that appear at PhilomathNews.com) wrote a comprehensive piece based on interviews that included Ben’s wife of 43 years, Pam Wald, and Philomath doctor David Grube. I went back this afternoon and re-read the story — it’s an emotional experience.
For those who don’t know much about the Death with Dignity Act, Oregon became the first state in 1997 to allow adults who are terminally ill and mentally competent to take a lethal dose of an approved medication to end their lives. Nowadays, there are 19 states with laws that provide this end-of-life option.
In 2021, 383 Oregon residents utilized the Death with Dignity Act. According to information provided by Rep. David Gomberg — he wrote about this topic in his most recent newsletter — 81% were 65 or older, and cancer was the most common diagnosis at 61%. Ninety-five percent of patients died at home and 98% were enrolled in hospice.
Gomberg wrote, “As changes facilitated by the new Supreme Court manifest themselves, one subject that may gain increasing attention is the question of physician-assisted suicide.”
The representative reported that the three most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns reported by state residents who took advantage of the Death With Dignity Act in 2015 were decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (96.2%), loss of autonomy (92.4%) and loss of dignity (75.4%).
It’s been almost seven years since my brother, Terry, died of pancreatic cancer at our dad’s home in Nebraska. The pain and suffering that I saw him go through will never leave me. I won’t say much more — many of you may have had similar experiences with loved ones. He was only 59.
I’ll just share that I feel fortunate to live in a state that has the Death with Dignity Act.
2. Another grant for books
Last week, I wrote a news brief about the Clemens Primary School receiving a $990 grant from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund to purchase National Geographic books for students as part of its Books for Kids program.
Since then, I’ve learned more about literacy efforts through K’Lynn Coleman, CPS Title 1 reading teacher. Coleman points to research that shows successful school programs “extend into the home by involving parents in their children’s reading.”
Said Coleman, “We found that during the pandemic when students learned at home, we had a partnership of reading” and the students loved sharing books with their teachers.
Because of this school-home partnership, Coleman wanted to find funding sources to help purchase a library of books that her students could “read and keep and own.”
Coleman’s request was met in part by a regional group of teachers who make up the Chintimini UniServ Council of the Oregon Education Association. The group’s grants committee meets annually at the OEA office in Philomath to fund requests it receives for the Barb Drennan Promising Practices grant program, a statewide effort to support educator ideas to increase student success in the classroom.
The committee awarded Coleman with $958.10 to help her purchase one book for each of the nearly 200 students who attend Clemens Primary.
“We want our students to become readers,” Coleman said. “And enjoying a good book begins the romp along the powerful path of literacy gains.”
3. Crowded room for ‘Moana’
A good number of youngsters filled Philomath High’s auditorium on Thursday afternoon for the “Moana” tea party — a fundraising event for the middle school drama department. In addition to the lemonade and cookies, the kids enjoyed about a half-hour of scenes and songs from the middle school’s play, which will have a four-show run next week.
I’ll write a full story previewing the play to appear early next week. I also took a lot of photos and will put those together in a gallery. But I was there for more than just work. I brought my 5-year-old son along — he’s seen “Moana” several times on the Disney Channel and I figured he would enjoy it.
We walked out of there with a smile on our faces and a lei around my son’s neck. I think he felt a little special because his little brother (age 3) didn’t get to go. Honestly, my younger son would’ve had fun, too, but I felt like I couldn’t handle both of them while also doing an interview and shooting photos.
After seeing the movie a few times with the kids, I recognized all of the songs. I think my favorite has to be Maui’s “You’re Welcome.”
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).