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Consumer Voice Tributes

 The Consumer Voice would like to honor and remember fellow advocates.

In Memory... 

Peter J. Levin

"Peter was an ombudsman representative volunteer in the Montgomery County, MD program.  He actively served long term care residents in an assisted living community for two years.  He passed away on July 31, 2017." - Eileen Bennett

Liz Donohue

"Liz Donohue was an active ombudsman volunteer in Montgomery County, MD from 1991 - 2015.  She served residents in two different nursing homes during her career.  After relocating to Northern Vriginia, she continued her valiant efforts in working with Alzheimers' awareness programs.  We are honored to count her among the double decade achievers in advocacy volunteerism.  We are sorry to hear of her passing." - Eileen Bennett

Kary Hyre

Kary was a passionate advocate for protecting the rights of vulnerable people.  He was the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman from 1989 to 2006.  He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of nursing home residents.

Family, friends, colleagues and partners in advocacy share memories of Kary:

  • "Kary was a passionate, skilled and fun loving State Ombudsman of Washington. State. He believed  in including residents in advocacy and pushed for assisted living residents to be protected in regulations. With an enormous smile, he would wear an Uncle Sam hat and promote resident rights at the Capital.  I learned so much from him and admired his religious devotion as a church musician.  I am so blessed to have worked with him." - Alice Hedt

  • "Kary was a visionary and fearless advocate for long-term care residents.  He was also a teacher, statesman, musician and all around wonderful man.  He was always kind and never waivered from putting the resident first.  He had the best laugh and a quirky sense of humor.  His contributions to long-term care  polices, regulations and laws and to the Ombudsman program will stand the test of time.." - Louise Ryan

  • "Kary was a stellar advocate and had a special fun spirit about him.  He left a star in the sky." - Elma Holder

Helene Fredeking

"Helene was a dedicated public servant and valued member of the CV community. She dedicated her work life and her retirement, to quality care for people living in nursing homes. She invited all stakeholders to work together to develop the surveyor guidelines to implement OBRA '87 and she listened mightily to residents' experiences as she shaped the survey process. In her retirement, she was a hard working member of NCCNHR's board of directors, and a dear friend. We are so grateful for all her contributions to our field, and for her loving spirit." - Barbara Frank

Lou O'Reilly

Lou O'Reilly was the founder of Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents, a non-profit organization that has made an impact in Texas nursing home care, social welfare and environmental conditions of nursing home residents.  She was on several state legislature committees and lobbied for many bills protecting the rights of nursing home residents.  Lou was a long-time member of Consumer Voice and a former Board member.  Read more here.

"Lou O'Reilly, a founder of Texas Advocates for Nursing HOme Care(TANHR), died on June 1, 2016 after serving fpr 27 years. Lou's soft southern accent belied the ferocious nature of her advocacy thru TANHR and personally for residents throughout the huge state of Texas. Residents benefitted  as rights were explained and resident councils established. NCCNHR recognized her stardom and she served on the board for some years. I worked with her nationally in the 1990's and her steadfast way of getting things done are the same qualities that are essential for nursing home advocates today. TANHR continues to work with Consumer Voice on current issues such as the pre-dispute letter to CMS, all because Lou O'Reilly's past work.  What a legacy Lou left in TANHR. It was a privilege to know her." - Sarah Burger

"Lou was a passionate advocate and a warm and loving person. She was a dedicated member of NCCNHR's board of directors for many years. She was a thoughtful contributor to our understanding of what needed to be done and how to go about it. Soft spoken, with a heart of gold, Lou had such backbone and unwavering commitment to quality care for nursing home residents." - Barbara Frank

Faith Fish

Friends, family, colleagues and partners in advocacy share memories of Faith:

  • "As a state ombudsman, Faith's passionate advocacy and leadership prompted others to find new ways to serve consumers. She was an outstanding supporter of the Consumer Voice (NCCNHR). Her humor, laughter, dedication, generosity, and encouragement will be missed." - Sara Hunt

  • "Faith was the former State Ombudsman at the New York State Office for the Aging and was a tireless and caring advocate for the elderly.  She made all of the professionals who worked there better.  The Aging Network will miss Faith Fish." - Marcus Harazin

  • "Dear Faith served as NY State's Long Term Care Ombudsman and was an active, fun-loving, deep-hearted, wise member of our advocacy community.  What a blessing to have her imprinted into our lives!" - Barbara Frank

Other contributions were made in memory of Faith Fish by: Barry & Judy Baron

Brian Capshaw


Brian at the 2015 Consumer Voice Annual Conference in November.   ///    Brian at the White House for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in July.

Brian with Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee
and Executive Director of the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) Nora Super at a
WHCOA Listening Session at the 2014 Consumer Voice Annual Conference

Brian Capshaw was born in Connecticut and graduated from Newington High School in 1980.  He was active throughout college, playing for the tennis team, and in 1984 earned a degree in Accounting from Nichols College.  In 1994, he earned a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Indiana University.  Brian worked for 23 years in corporate cost accounting for auto manufacturing firms. 

In September of 1994, Brian was injured in a car accident and was paralyzed from the chest down.  Health complications required him to move back to Connecticut in 2007 and become a full-time resident at a nursing home.  There, he regained much of his strength and passion for life and devoted his energies to the cause of advocacy for nursing home residents.    

Brian was President of the Greensprings Health Care Center Resident Council, initiating a variety of programs to enhance the quality of life for his fellow residents. He served on the Executive Board of CT's Presidents of Resident Councils. Brian lobbied for and testified at legislative public hearings on a wide variety of issues related to improving nursing home care, including staffing, video monitoring, and the Personal Needs Allowance.   He was a board member of the Statewide Coalition of Presidents of Resident Councils in Connecticut since 2010 and was the Chairperson for the Consumer Voice Leadership Council. 

This past July, Brian was the only nursing home resident invited to the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. He was frequently interviewed by and quoted in the press. He was an inspiration to other residents and advocates, and to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Legislators knew him by his first name, respected his opinion, and looked to him for answers about life in a nursing home.  Consumer Voice and many others   valued Brian’s intelligence, knowledge, expertise and ability to communicate the resident experience  - and his tireless pursuit of better care and a better life for residents.

Brian was a passionate and articulate voice not only for the residents of CT, but for residents nationwide. He aimed high and made others do the same. Brian’s obituary notes  that he: “was doggedly determined, un-phased by his physical limitations, stubborn, generous, and good-humored about life's challenges, a valuable lesson for all of us.”  Brian will be deeply missed.

Read Brian’s full obituary here.

Friends, family, colleagues and partners in advocacy share memories of Brian below.  If you would like to send your thoughts remembering Brian, email info@theconsumervoice.org.

  • "A true figher" - Jeannette O'Connor
  • "Brian Capshaw was a man who overcame his physical limits to become a mighty advocate for long term care and those in adult living." - Joy Kramer

  • "Every time I was around Brian, I was so impressed by his strong, heartfelt, self-experienced advocacy and loveliness as a person. He will be missed. All through our organizational life, we have been privileged to have resident advocates joining with us in advocacy and teaching us to keep on target and always continue our work with trust that goodness and common sense will prevail. With so many, many resident friends and colleagues passing on before us, we have a wealth of good, strong spirits behind our continuing work." - Elma Holder

  • "He was a gift to us all and he will be dearly and sorely missed. His legacy as an advocate will live on in us all as we continue to push for quality long term care. CT lost one of its finest residents and our continued advocacy will always have Brian in the forefront of our minds." - Lindsay Jesshop

  • "I met Brian at the Consumer Voice Leadership meeting a year ago November. What an inspiration. His legacy with the Consumer Voice will live on for years and years. Yes, RIP Brian....." - Shirley Krohn

  • "I will miss Brian, he was a good person, and a supportive co-worker in our consumer voice endeavors." - Yvette Green

  • "Brian was such an inspiration and an incredible advocate. I learned so much from him." - Sarah Wells

  • "Brian was a ray of sunshine. What a great human being. I am so honored to have known Brian while working as a Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman for The State of CT. Many walk through this life without making an impact. In Brian's short life, he has had an impact on others that will be felt for years to come. Thank you, Brian, for all that you have done for others in need." - Cristina MacGillis

  • "Brian's passing has been a terrible and devastating shock. He was one of the strongest, most persistent, most reliable people I've ever met. He helped a lot of people and made a lot of people listen and he will be missed and remembered by many. My deepest condolences to his loving family and friends that knew him best and are hurting right now."

  • "Last I saw Brian was at the White House in July! He was in fine form, very excited and grateful to be there. (I felt exactly the same.) We squeezed in the room where President Obama spoke about vulnerable older and disabled Americans, listening carefully. Brian was one of the met hopeful people I have ever met. I will remember his strength and strive to carry his ideas forward along with many others." - Anne Montgomery

  • "What an amazing advocate in Connecticut and nationally. Brian you will be missed. Thank you for all that you have done to improve the lives of people living in nursing homes, especially younger individuals." - Susan Raimondo

  • "He was such a nice person and a tremendous advocate for quality long-term care---and a great example for all of us. I told him at the conference how impressed I was with all that he was doing. He said, "When I get tired I just realize that if I don't do it for the residents in my facility, who will?"   A big loss to all residents, The Consumer Voice, and to all of us who have been inspired while working with him."

  • "He will be truly missed for his tremendous advocacy on behalf of all long term care residents. I will always admire his tenacious spirit in speaking on behalf of others receiving long term care."

  • "I am just so fortunate that I got to know him a little over the last couple of years.  It was so special to be at the White House Conference on Aging with him in July.  He was a strong and true advocate for quality care in nursing homes.  He knew from his own personal life how much it means.  We will remember his voice and is advocacy and keep it strong in our on-going efforts to bring about the best quality care possible for people in long-term care.  His caring knowledge and inspiration will continue.  Thank you dear Brian for being a part of all of us"

  • "What strength, courage and conviction it took for him to be engaged and speak out. And what a nice nice person."

  • "I met him at the conference in 2014 and was so impressed by his desire and ability to advocate for nursing home residents.  He will truly be missed by many."

  • "His voice, dedication and unceasing advocacy will be sorely missed."

  • "I knew him only for a short time, but I admired him very much. He was a wonderful advocate and a wonderful friend to all who knew him.  It is a great loss to us all."

Contributions have been made in memory of Brian by: Joy Kramer, Jill Lubrano, Jeannette O'Connor, Susan Raimondo, Carolyn Manson, Sarah Greene Burger, Paul & Margery Howes, Laura Morton McIntyre,  and Toby Edelman.

Catherine M. Trainor, mother of Eileen Bennett and Janet Byrne

  • Contributions made by Eileen Bennett, Alice Hedt, Sandra Hughes, Allison de Gravelles, Susan Mondelo, Ruth, Tenesha, Gail and Stevanne.

Margaret Oden

  • Contribution made by Margaret Farley, Kansas

June Lewis and Anita Punter

  • Contribution made by Mary J. Fallon, Pennsylvania

Curmet Forte (1940-2014)

Curmet was injured in a softball accident while still a relatively young man and told that he would never be able to walk again. In fact, he did learn to walk, although with difficulty, and lived the rest of his life in long-term care facilities where he became an outspoken, well-known and prolific advocate for other residents. 

Over the next quarter century, he was president of the DC Village Residents Council, where he represented residents in advocating for improvements in the facility and ultimately, for residents' rights and protection during the closure of the nursing home under pressure from federal authorities. He was president for many years of the DC coalition of nursing home resident councils, where he advocated for residents and systemic improvements in nursing home care across the District of Columbia; a founding board member of a local consumer advocacy group, WINH (Washingtonians for Improvement of Nursing Homes); and for at least a decade, a member of the board of the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (now the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care). As a NCCNHR board member, he provided the perspective of residents to federal regulators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Those who worked with Curmet will always remember him for his support of nursing home residents’ rights. For years he organized and chaired the annual Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month event for DC residents and facilitated residents from Washington-area nursing homes’ participation in the annual Residents Rights Luncheon at the NCCNHR/Consumer Voice annual conference. 

Even with increasing disabilities and illnesses toward the end of his life, he spoke up for residents’ rights and quality of care to administrators of the facilities where he lived, nursing home corporate officers, and local and federal authorities. Curmet was known by many as an advocate committed to the rights and protection of people who are largely voiceless in our society. 

Join others in the Consumer Voice network remembering Curmet Forte by making a contribution:

  • Alice Hedt, Maryland - "Curmet was a great advocate in NCCNHR as a Board Member, office volunteer,and host of the Resident Rights banquets. He was constantly vigilant on behalf of other residents - pushing to improve care, fighting for the right to have straws when the facility stopped buying them to save money, starting a store because the cost of sodas and chips was too high for the residents to pay (the Health Dept closed the store!), hosting the mayor and politicians to meet the NH residents, and organizing residents to increase the personal needs allowance. Even when he had to call the NCCNHR office and ask for help because he was cold and could not get a blanket (the heat had not yet been turned on in the NH), he was cheerful and determined - a true inspiration."
  • Sarah Wells, Virginia

In Honor...

Elma Holder, NCCNHR Founder


John Weir, Former Consumer Voice President and Ombudsman for 26 years

The Consumer Voice would like to honor the advocacy John Weir as he celebrates his retirement.  John Weir is a former Consumer Voice President and has been an ombudsman in Michigan for 26 years (the longest serving ombudsman in Michigan history).  He is a certified Eden Associate and has run a regional support group for homes that have started the culture change journey.  He organized a local Chapter in the Kalamazoo area of the Michigan Campaign for Quality Care and has run a couple of fundraisers for the state group as well. John was awarded the Wilma Douahue Award by the Elder Law & Advocacy Section of the State Bar of Michigan for both his years of service to the his clients and the leadership he provides to the other 7 regional Ombudsman offices around the State. He was also recognized by the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging & the Office of Services to the Aging for his dedication & commitment to assisting persons who were relocated to Nursing Homes in his area after Hurricane Katrina.  In his advocacy, he has worked to help families and residents learn about their rights and to expect to receive quality care in the setting of their choice.  John Weir has been a pillar of great advocacy and Consumer Voice is grateful for his contributions to ensuring quality long-term care.

Join others in the Consumer Voice network honoring John Weir by making a contribution:

  • Anne Zemlick, Michigan - "John Weir has been a long-term care ombudsman for 26 years serving people in Kalamazoo, Michigan surrounding areas.  He has been an excellent advocate for those who did not have a voice and has helped make a positive change in the lives of many. Thank you, John, for your many years of service!"
  • Judy A. Sivak, Michigan
  • Sherry Culp, Kentucky - "John Weir was the first person I met at my first NCCNHR Annual Meeting in DC in 1999. He was working the registration table in his NCCNHR tee shirt. The moment he found out I was a local ombudsman I had a friend for life. John did many great things to help residents,the ombudsman program, and Consumer Voice but I will always remember him first as someone who made me feel welcome in the network. Thank you John! I hope you enjoy your retirement."