Learn more about the ACHA friends and supporters we have lost - or submit a memorial for our website for someone you have loved and lost.
This page is dedicated to the ACHA family and friends whom we have lost. You can read their profiles here. We also invite you to submit a memorial on someone you loved who lived with ACHD for this website.
Please send your memorial submission to email@example.com. Include the name of the person you are memorializing, along with your name and contact information. We encourage you to send a picture, but that is optional. Please keep your submission to 500 words or less.
"Every year in the month of April, thousands of people flock to Boston, Massachusetts to either watch or take part in the annual Boston Marathon. The marathon covers a distance of 26.2 miles from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Copley Square in Boston. This is one of the most popular marathons in the world. The winner gains a great amount of money, and on his or her head is placed a Laurel Wreath. The Laurel Wreath is an emblem of honor and of achievement.
There are many who deserve a Laurel Wreath, but they are unknown to the world. They are people who are running in their own marathon. It is not a marathon that will end in 26.2 miles, it is a marathon that will last a lifetime. It is not a marathon for money or reward, it is a marathon that is run to stay alive. They are people who are have Congenital Heart Defects—CHD. Every year that they live is cause for a Laurel Wreath.
This newsletter is a Laurel Wreath for them."
I began corresponding with Judy not long after she joined CHIN's ACHD listserv. At the time, I was one of a small group of people trying to put together an organization for ACHDers, which later became ACHA. One of our projects was to put out a newsletter, which at that point was in need of a title.
Judy was excited about the idea of a newsletter. She believed that the printed word was the best way to get the word out to other ACHDers. She wrote the passage above and sent it to me along with potential logo designs for our organization. When I read it, I realized that she had given us a name for our newsletter—The Laurel Wreath, as well as a logo.
Judy quickly became one of my closest friends. I came to rely on her wisdom and advice. I even began to refer to her as "Grandma." She was an inspiration to all of us.
I spoke with her for the first time shortly before she was admitted for her last surgery. When she answered the phone, she laughed and said, "So, you ARE real." We talked for about two hours. She was nervous about the surgery, but had great hopes that it would improve and extend her life. She told me that she was going through with it because she had a lot left she wanted to do, including finishing her autobiography.
I was looking forward to talking with her again, and visiting her once she had recovered. Her passing on December 23, 1998, came as a great shock to me. I miss her a great deal, but I know she is with the Lord.
It is important to remember that Judy would not want us to give up hope. We all must continue to support one another in our struggles with CHD and with life. She would want us to remember her with joy, not sadness. She asked that donations to ACHA be made in lieu of sending flowers.
—Karen L. Klein
A wonderfully talented and creative young man, Steven passed away at the age of 26 on Friday, March 28 of 2008, after having been born on April 24, 1981, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Steven was the son of Steve and Penny Nowaczyk and the brother of Joshua Nowaczyk and Roger Garrett. Steven was the loving father of Camron Nowaczyk, age 5, whom he had sole custody and support of. He lived in Muncie, Indiana and graduated from Winchester Community High School in 1999. Steven loved wrestling, UFC, football (Go Colts!), fishing, playing basketball with his younger brother (Josh), and music. Some of his closest friends also knew him to be a great poet and artist. He loved to have fun and spend time with his family especially his son Camron, nephews Chase Garrett and Jaeden Nowaczyk, as well as his niece Paijah. Unfortunately he was not able to spend the time he would have loved to have had with his latest niece, Leilianna Nowaczyk. All Steven wanted was to have a loving person to spend the rest of his life with, children to love, and a home to call his own in Florida.
Steven will be missed dearly by his loved ones, but he will never be forgotten. We will reunite with you soon. Steven passed away in the Ross Heart Hospital of SIRS while awaiting an LVAD & Transplant.
Stuart Shire died recently at his home in San Francisco, California. In 1988, Stuart, along with two friends, started The Heart Connection, the first support group for ACHD patients in the United States, in Oakland, California. When Stuart was a teenager he wrote and published a pamphlet for children with CHD, "So You're Having a Heart Cath." The book was recently re-issued by Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. In spite (and perhaps partly because) of his illness, he was a talented writer, musician, and public relations professional. He will be greatly missed by his friends in California and elsewhere.
—Joyce M. Steinlauf
Fran Shworles passed away on March 4, 2000. She was an inspiration to everyone that knew her and will be dearly missed by everyone on the ACHD and PDHeart listservs. Fran was a 55 year old survivor of tetralogy of Fallot and touched many lives and will continue to touch our lives, even in her passing.
There are really no words to describe what kind of person Fran was, but we all should be happy to know that we have one more person watching over us, waiting to greet us when our time comes.
Fran once said, "While in my coma I can remember walking by a river with a nice man and we talked. He had a white robe on, a beard and long hair. We walked on the greenest grass I ever saw. I remember my coma to this day, as I believe I walked with the Lord." Well Fran, now you can walk with him for eternity. Heaven is a better place now that you are there.
There's nothing more that can be said about Fran, so this poem I found is how I will end:
The Day God Called You Home
God looked around his Garden and found an empty place.
He then looked down upon his earth and saw your loving face.
He put his arms around you and lifted you to rest.
His Garden must be beautiful, he always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering, he knew you were in pain.
And knew that you would never get well on earth again.
He saw your path was difficult, he closed your tired eyes,
He whispered to you "Peace be Thine" and gave you wings to fly.
When we saw you sleeping so calm and free of pain,
We would not wish you back to earth to suffer once again.
You've left us precious memories, your love will be our guide,
You live on through your family, you're always by our side.
It broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone.
For part of us went with you on the day God called you home.
We love you Fran and we will miss our "Heart Sister."
Darren was a special person. He touched so many peoples' lives. He always had time to listen to others and take the time to help if he could. He tried to help them to have faith in God and to have the faith to carry on.
Darren was a very special son and father.
ACHA is saddened by the loss of Cynthia Solomon, who is fondly remembered for providing personal health records (PHRs) as an important resource to the congenital heart patient community through the FollowMe and Follow My Heart programs.