Joan Lee, R.I.P.

As someone who has been involved in organizing with senior citizen groups for over a decade, I have learned to recognize that some of my best allies will not be with us forever. But it doesn’t make it any better.

Joan B. Lee, a leader in the Gray Panthers locally, statewide, and nationally, passed away Saturday night. She will be missed, not just as an advocate for seniors, people with disabilities, health care, and progressive ideals, but as someone who was known in the corridors of power in Sacramento, and had an impact.
She was an important ambassador between different groups: between different anti-war groups with different tactics here in Sacramento; between seniors and people with disabilities; between senior groups and Latino organizations; and between activists with different strategies around health reform.

We worked with her a lot on many issues, from fighting budget cuts to supporting the universal single-payer health care bill, SB840. We partnered with her and other groups on Medicare Part D, and I remember her actively distributing glossy postcards printed by the national Gray Panthers with a slogan I think she came up with: “PHRMA got the donut, we got the hole.”

She was an active member of the OuRx coalition that was successful in a groundbreaking prescription drug discount program, and other key legislation. She was an active members of the Olmstead Advisory Committee, and always looked to bring in the perspective not just seniors but people with disabilities.

It was a pleasure to present in front of the Sacramento Gray Panthers group, which she helped convened monthly at the Hart Senior Center. She also was prominent statewide, as part of the Gray Panthers Affiliation of California Networks
UPDATE: A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, August 15, at 11 am, at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, 2425 Sierra Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95825. Refreshments will be served.

* Condolences can be sent to her family, including her husband Arnie, at their home in Sacramento, at 5313 Fernwood Way, Sacramento, CA 95841.

* Condolences to the Sacramento Gray Panthers can be sent to PO Box 19438, Sacramento, CA 95819
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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