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This is a very belated blog in recognition of Pat Lindsey, and of her retirement party in June 2012, at which she was honored. She has been very active in the local tobacco control movement and has been an inspiration in her dogged pursuit of smoke-free air and efforts to curtail the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors.I attended the event in company with Ms. Vivian Dietemann, another person who has fought for smoke-free air for many years. Pat gave a speech after receiving an award presented by Jeff Rainford, St. Louis Mayor Slay’s Chief of Staff, and the text is reproduced below. Following that are photos I took of some of the attendees. Additional photos taken by another attendee can be found on Facebook at Pat Lindsey’s Retirement Party.
Pat’s Retirement Speech
I’ve had a great time this evening and I am truly honored that all of you have taken time out of your busy schedules to watch me age before your very eyes as I enter “My Golden Years of Retirement.” Actually, I’ve already been retired for nearly two months and I’ve made a couple of discoveries. First, it’s nice to be out of the rat race, but it’s hard to get by with less cheese…….Also, lunch is the most important meal of the day. My calendar is now based on lunch dates with many of my friends who are here tonight.My husband has been wondering when I’m going to help him at The Independent News (our community newspaper), but for now, he’s being a good sport by letting me feel as though I’m retired and not bugging me too much to go work with him.
When I haven’t been going out to lunch, to book club meetings, card parties, ballgames, free concerts, Curves or swimming in the pool, I’ve been taking some trips down Memory Lane and reflecting on what I’ve done with my life. And you know what?….It’s been a darned good life.
When I started working as a preschool teacher, I never expected that I would be fighting Big Tobacco one day. I never dreamed I would be working with such a special group of people like you who shared the passion to improve public health, change social norms, and make a real impact on people’s lives. We should all be very proud that people can go almost anywhere in St. Louis City and County and not breathe toxic secondhand smoke.
It was a long, hard row to hoe sometimes, but I’ve always appreciated the dedication of long-time volunteers such as Don & Kay Young, Ernie Wolf, Diana Wilhold, Darienne Brueggen, Charley Gatton, who were true pioneers and always available to do whatever needed to be done to move us forward from community-based programs to municipal and county-wide policy changes. We can be proud that we provided teachers with the best Train-the-Trainer workshops ever and that we educated children with powerful tobacco programs and SWAT trainings. On Great American Smokeout Day each year we tried to make the news, but one event that stands out in my mind was when we clothed every Greater St. Louis area baby born on Smokeout Day in a little t-shirt that said, “I’m a born non-smoker,” and we gave their parents a folder of important information on secondhand smoke and SIDS. While Jeff Rainford was the coalition’s media consultant, we were constantly trying to think of ways to gain earned media.
One day, we decided to do a press conference to raise the public’s awareness about the tobacco industry targeting African American communities with tobacco billboards. Jeff and I scouted for the perfect location for the press conference and settled on a vacant lot in North St. Louis next to a building that had a big Newport billboard plastered on one whole wall. We invited several Northside ministers to speak and Jeff got commitments from all the media outlets to attend the press conference. What we hadn’t planned on was a torrential rain the night before. When we arrived at the site the next day, our focal point—the Newport billboard—was on the ground. Did that ruin our press conference? Not at all.
Thanks to some quick-thinking volunteers who starting stomping all over the fallen billboard, the headline became, “Coalition Stomps Out Tobacco Billboards,” and that ended up being the best press conference we ever held. And within months after that press conference, we held another press conference in Ferguson with Jay Nixon ripping down another tobacco billboard, signifying the end to all tobacco billboards in the U.S., due to the Master Settlement Agreement.
There have been many stories like that over the course of 20 years, but I know you’re getting hungry for cake. Please bear with me for just another minute, because I have to introduce to you some of the people who have enhanced my job and made me very proud. They are the Saint Louis University graduate students who I have had the privilege of working with and mentoring. I’m very proud to report that they are all gainfully employed in various types of public health jobs and doing well. As I call your names, I’d like each of you to come up here and be recognized. Jenny Boyce Grosso (who came here tonight from Madison, Wisconsin!); Melissa Hogan; Viviane McKay; Aimee Snavely; and Jared Opsal (who planned this entire evening). Jared is the only one still at Saint Louis University and he’s been taking care of the daily operations of the coalition. I’d also like you meet my CPPW staff from the past two years who worked with Jared. They are Cindy Pulley, Emily Mortland and Phil Betts.
And speaking of the coalition, I’d like to thank the current and past members of the Tobacco-Free St. Louis Board of Directors. Would you all please stand? They are the glue that holds this coalition together and they could use your help. We have several openings on the board right now and there is still a lot of work to be done. We need to get St. Charles County smoke-free and we need to see a big drop in teen smoking. Somehow, the kids still aren’t getting the message. You don’t need to be a tobacco expert to be on the board; you just need to have a desire to make some positive changes in the community.
We would have been working in a vacuum all these years if it hadn’t been for our collaboration with many community partners, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, BJC Healthcare, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, St. Louis County Department of Health, St. Louis City Department of Health, St. Louis Asthma Consortium, St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition, Missouri GASP, and many other agencies and private businesses. So many of their staff members and volunteers were always available to testify at public hearings and come to bat whenever called.
I’d especially like to recognize Stan Cowan, who was my long-distance supervisor for several years when he worked for the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services and I was under a cooperative agreement with Saint Louis University. No one else taught me as much about tobacco as Stan did. (For those of you who know Stan, you know he is a walking encyclopedia of tobacco information.) Thank you, Stan, for being a great teacher.
It has always helped to have friends in high places and I can’t begin to count the times State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford and Mayor Slay’s Chief of Staff, Jeff Rainford, St. Louis Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, former Ballwin Alderman Charley Gatton, and our current Tobacco-Free St. Louis Board Chairman, Barbara Fraser, have helped me. I will be always be indebted to you. (Jeanette is now running for State Senator of the 5th District!)
Last, but not least, I’d like you to meet my family, who has given me their love and support and worked quietly behind the scenes for many years…..My husband, Bob….My daughter, Laura…My son, Bryan….My two favorite cousins, Joyce Brockhaus and Donna Hopkins, and one of our biggest advocates, my mother-in-law, Ruth Lindsey. I love you.
In closing, I’d like to thank all of you again for being here tonight and for making so many contributions over the years….And I’d like you to leave you with this quote from my hero, Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Thank you….and go have your cake!
Note: Please click on photo below to enlarge. Following the photos are relevant affiliations in order, where known. (Please e-mail corrections for any unintended errors to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff to St. Louis Mayor Slay
Don & Kay Young, Young Choices
Vivian McKay, St. Louis County Health Department
Diana Wilhold, Director, School Outreach & Youth Development, BJC HealthCare
Ernie & Viviane Wolf, former owner of Skytop Sunroof and smoke-free air volunteer
Charley Gatton, co-chair of successful County Citizens for Cleaner Air (Prop N) Campaign
Jeanine Arrighi, City of St. Louis Health Department
Jean Loemker, Healthy Air for Kirkwood and County Citizens for Cleaner Air (Prop N) Campaign
Dr. Stuart Slavin, County Citizens for Cleaner Air (Prop N) Campaign, and Associate Dean for Curriculum and Professor
of Pediatrics, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Stan Cowan, Research Aide in the Dept of Family & Community Medicine, University of Missouri – Columbia
Former State Representative Jeanette Mott-Oxford
Vivian Dietemann, MoGASP supporter, who among other achievements, succeeded in making the public areas of the Missouri State Capitol smoke-free via an ADA complaint
Craig LeFebvre, Public Information Officer, St. Louis County Department of Health
Jean Loemker, Healthy Air for Kirkwood and County Citizens for Cleaner Air (Prop N) Campaign