A Tribute to Audrey McMahon, 1920-2014

Audrey McMahon, 1920-2014

Audrey McMahon, 1920-2014

Audrey McMahon’s son, Ned, shared with us the news of his mother’s passing: Dear friends and colleagues of Audrey McMahon: Please forgive this impersonal e-mail but I would like to share with you the news, on behalf of our family, that our mother Audrey Raymond McMahon died peacefully this morning (8/19/14) at age 93.  Her remarkable life ended the way she lived it, with grace and dignity.  Even in her final days she continued to impress those around her with her good cheer and caring. I am sure that you join us in celebrating her life and legacy. She touched so many lives, both on a personal level and within the learning disabilities community.

Mary-Clare Reynolds, Executive Director of LDA of America, wrote: …Audrey founded LDA’s Research Committee (originally known as the Scientific Studies Committee) and was always ahead of her time.  She was a true pioneer in LDA and to say she was instrumental in bringing the effects of toxic exposure to the table would be a huge understatement.  A self-taught expert on the subject of neurotoxins, fetal vulnerability and environmental exposures on the developing brain, she regularly represented LDA when she testified before Congress in the 1980’s.  Audrey worked closely with many national LDA presidents to see that these topics were never sidelined.  And, through her many years of dedication, we have been able to keep her passion alive through our very successful Healthy Children Project.

Barbara McElgunn, a friend and colleague of Audrey’s remembers the first time she went to Washington in 1980 to meet and join the LDA Research Committee, feeling nervous and overwhelmed. Audrey walked up the aisle as Barbara entered the huge room where people were getting seated for the plenary session, smiled, and took Barbara by the hand to sit beside her.  We had 20 years of Washington visits together with the Research Committee, and all productive, much thanks to Audrey’s amazing contacts, her organization of medical symposia, and many talents.  Audrey was my mentor, dear friend, and colleague. I feel blessed to have known and worked with her.

In the mid-1950s Audrey and her husband, Benjamin, settled in Princeton, New Jersey, where she began her long involvement in the field of learning disabilities as a parent advocate with the then Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (now LDA of America). She brought attention to causes of learning disabilities including lead-based paint and prenatal environmental endocrine disruptors. Audrey received many awards for her effective advocacy on behalf of individuals with learning disabilities including the LDA Award of Recognition in 2001.       

A concluding paragraph of the newspaper write-up on Audrey states: Audrey’s life was characterized by thoughtfulness and caring for those with whom she came into contact, and especially friends and family. Instances of her generosity and warmth of spirit are legion. She touched many people and the world is better off due to her actions.

A memorial service was held at Christ Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, on September 27. The family requested that donations may be made to the Learning Disabilities Association ofAmerica,https://ldaamerica.org/donate/. For those who are just now learning of Audrey’s passing, a guest register is available athttp://www.brewittfuneralhome.com/.

 
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