We are saddened by the loss of our long time mentor, advisor and friend, Beth French. Beth was a champion for People First and instrumental in helping our organization to be independent and autonomous. For over the past 30 years, Beth has played many roles with our movement from National Coordinator, Advisor and behind the scenes Supporter. She was always available to listen, provide well thought out advice and helped many of us have confidence to speak out on matters that are important. We are grateful for our time with Beth and we will miss her.
President, People First Ontario
Our Friend, Beth French
Beth was a great advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. Beth had a quite strength that invisibly was transmitted to those around her at that moment. And her respect for People First members showed her undying commitment to not only the individuals but the People First Movement. Beth taught me how important it is to keep life events straight in my mind so that I may share with other people. Beth always made sure that People First members were front and center whether it was at government or local People First chapter meetings. Her skills as a facilitator were second to none! She continued to train people about values and how commitment is part of any social movement. Outside of Community Living and People First movement, she was a fantastic connector. Her great love for her family was remarkable.
I am greatly saddened and in shock at having Beth leave us so suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this week.
I had a few visits with her at The Heart Institute following her recent surgery. The last one on the Saturday before her discharge was particularly positive…she was looking good and regaining strength…we talked at length of the movement that we both have been involved in for so many years. I agreed with her concerns… and was heartened that she had optimism for the future. A future that sadly will be without her presence but will benefit greatly from her thinking and contribution.
I met Beth in the 80’s when she worked at CACL and me at OAMR. But our relationship flourished when she was ED of the Brockville Association and I was ED of the Lanark Association. Her presence and support and encouragement and teachings were so appreciated. After my retirement (for which she co-organized a party) I became involved as an Advisor for People First of Ontario and she was my role model giving freely of her experience and commitment to the People First movement… I just hope that I offered a fraction of the support that she gave to the People First movement decades earlier.
I will remember Beth always for her warmth; her loyalty to and understanding of our movement; her unending commitment to people with disabilities and their families; her leadership; her willingness to share and teach; and so much more.
Thank you dear Beth for all you have done and for everything you have meant to me. Marilyn Dolmage shared a quotation when we talking about Beth that went “Justice is what love looks like, in public”, written by Cornell West. That was our friend Beth.
I had the honor and privilege of having a role model, teacher and mentor in Beth French. We will be ever connected for our passion for the People First movement, the work of Wolf Wolfensberger and the love of Tait’s Bakery. Beth took me to Tait’s when I first moved to Brockville to talk about the Good Life and eventually hired me to be a Family Support Coordinator at Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement. Even after I left BDACI to work for People First of Ontario she kept me close, letting me keep my desk at the office. Beth is one of only a few people in my life that with her quite demeanor and genuine smile could get me to agree to do just about anything…..it was very hard to say no to Beth. I am grateful for my time with Beth and will miss her. She has encouraged and inspired me to be “Gooder”.
Provincial Coordinator, People First Ontario
Peter Park and Beth French presenting at the People First of Ontario 2015 Annual General Meeting