MAUREEN KENNEDY SALAMAN
April 4, 1936 – August 17, 2006
“A friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.”
Maureen Kennedy Salaman, well-known for more than three decades as a highly visible activist and a proponent of the freedom to use alternative therapies, died on August 17th, 2006 at age 70 at her home in Atherton, California, south of San Francisco.
At the time of her death, Salaman was the president of the National Health Federation, a position she had held since the early 1980s. Founded in 1955, the NHF lobbies in support of health freedom and advocates a variety of alternative and unconventional therapies.
Salaman was the author of about ten books on various aspects of nutrition and health and was one of the hosts of a syndicated, infomercial-type television program on health and nutrition, Making Healthy Choices.
Laetrile and freedom of choice
Maureen Salaman first came to public attention in the early 1970s. With her husband Frank Salaman, she helped to organize the defense of John Richardson, M.D. who was prosecuted by the Alameda County District Attorney in July 1972 for using the unapproved cancer treatment laetrile in his practice. The Salamans, Robert and Carole Bradford, and Michael Culbert , all of whom shared a Libertarian political outlook, founded the Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy to support Richardson.
Before long, they were riding the crest of an emerging holistic health wave and a Watergate-era distrust of large institutions. The northern California-based Choice Committee quickly evolved into a nationwide grassroots effort involving thousands of people focused on decriminalizing laetrile state by state, and advocating the awareness and use of an expanding number of other alternative therapies. The Salamans, the Bradfords, and Culbert were the principal facilitators, and among the high level braintrust (or, as Culbert, a wry wordsmith who died in 2004, might have put it, the “ministers of propaganda”), behind this effort.
A comprehensive, balanced history of the dramatic and colorful decade in American medical history – lasting from 1972 until approximately 1982 – during which the laetrile and freedom of choice wars were fought across the country has yet to be written. As one of the observers who was around then, this author remembers the period as a unique, unpredictable, and heady time when a new wave of primary, unconventional alternative therapies suddenly emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, accompanied by a highly effective, pro-medical freedom political effort that inspired the public (both left and right), captivated the mainstream media, grabbed the attention of politicians, and for a time even put the powerful American medical Establishment on the defensive. Maureen Salaman and her cohorts – at the time considered by the mainstream to be questionable at best and promoters of dangerous quackery at worst – had an undeniably significant impact on these developments in the 1970s, as well as on the future of alternative medicine and related trends, including medical pluralism, autonomy, self-care, and personal empowerment, well into the next century.
In the 1970s, one of the roles Maureen Salaman played was as an editor of The Choice – the flagship periodical of the pro-laetrile and freedom of choice movements. An articulate and attractive speaker, Maureen was also adept at presenting the freedom of medical choice point of view in the mainstream media.
In the early 1980s, with the laetrile wars quieting down, Maureen began writing books on nutrition and health and marketing nutritional supplements and other natural products. She also became involved in the leadership of the National Health Federation. For the rest of her life she played a – if not the most – prominent role at the NHF – in its governance, public meetings, and publications, including writing for and editing the NHF’s quarterly publication Health Freedom News up to the time of her death.
As an example of her political activity, Maureen Salaman, who was philosophically distrustful of government, was the candidate for vice president of the U.S. on the Populist Party ticket in 1984. She and her running mate, former Olympic gold medal winning athlete Bob Richards, received 66,324 votes nationally. (The major party candidates that year were Minnesota Democrat Senator Walter Mondale and incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan.)
Like many people who seek or attain a degree of prominence or visibility in a controversial field like alternative medicine, Maureen Salaman had her critics – and her defenders, too. As her friend and longtime NHF attorney Scott Tips wrote two days after her death, “Petite, yet willful, Maureen often surprised those who did not know her with the force and persistence of her energy, drive, and intelligence.”
I recall Maureen most vividly from the early 1980s, when I often encountered her at alternative medicine meetings and conferences. She always came across as an energetic, enthusiastic, and sincere advocate and an extremely effective speaker on behalf of her interests and causes. She didn’t lack for a sense of humor, either. Over two decades ago, I knew Maureen well enough to confirm that she “walked the talk,” so to speak – unlike some others in the field, she was dedicated to a lifestyle she considered health promoting, including eating whole, minimally processed, and organic foods; taking lots of nutritional supplements; exercising; and avoiding harmful environmental influences.
A memorial service for Maureen was held on August 21st at the church she attended, the Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, California.
Peter Barry Chowka
MAUREEN KENNEDY SALAMAN
April 4, 1936 – August 17, 2006
The First Lady of Nutrition, Maureen Kennedy Salaman, passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Atherton, with loving friends at her side. An internationally known expert, lecturer, and author in the field of health and nutrition, Maureen’s accomplishments could fill volumes. Petite, yet willful, Maureen often surprised those who did not know her with the force and persistence of her energy, drive, and intelligence. To those who knew her, though, this was simply vintage Maureen.
Born in Glendale, California, Maureen early on moved to San Mateo County with her family, where she attended Sacred Heart School in Menlo Park. Later, she studied at and received her degree from the International University of Nutritional Education as well as an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University. The British Guild of Drugless Practitioners also recognized her educational achievements as did the Canadian Council of Professional Certification.
Maureen authored many bestselling books – including her monumental encyclopedia All Your Health Questions Answered Naturally. Her books, which are still in print with multiple reprintings, have sold many millions of copies throughout the World to people seeking nutritional answers to health problems.
Not content with just being a bestselling author, Maureen also spread her message of health and freedom by founding and editing several nutritional and health-freedom magazines as well as writing columns and articles for various newspapers and journals. She also was a speaker of extraordinary ability who knew how to say just those words that could touch and motivate individuals. Because of those skills and talents, she appeared regularly on television and radio programs and even hosted her own television program, Making Healthy Choices, reaching some 40 million viewers throughout the United States. Maureen had a unique talent for motivating people to take personal action to better their own lives.
Fervently patriotic, Maureen believed in her country and the men and women who defended it. In 1984 she was a vice presidential candidate for a major third political party. In 2006, just a few months ago, she was asked to give the memorial speech at the 62nd anniversary commemoration of the World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy in Sainte Mere Eglise, at which time Maureen received a medal from the American parachutist veterans’ organization. It was her last of many trips to France and Europe.
Her patriotism also extended to her belief that America should remain the land of health freedom. A tireless campaigner for health freedom for more than 30 years, Maureen was both major financial support for and president of the National Health Federation – the world’s oldest health-freedom organization for consumers – for more than 20 unprecedented terms. She once single-handedly prevented dietary supplements from being subjected to harsh postal restrictions by commandeering an airplane seat next to the sponsoring congressman as he returned home and convincing him by the end of the flight to withdraw his bill. In 2005, the NHF awarded Maureen its Health Freedom Hero award for a lifetime of achievement in promoting health freedom.
Generous to a fault, Maureen was always quickly ready to pull out her checkbook to fund worthy charities. She was the sole support for many years for Camp Hope, a Connecticut-based charity that provides numerous inner-city children the chance each year to get out of the city and spend time in a country environment. She also was actively involved in funding and promoting numerous animal-rescue and care organizations, including especially Redwood City-based Pets In Need, Inc., upon whose board of directors she had also served.
A longtime member of the Cathedral of Faith, Maureen was a devout Christian who regularly attended and provided financial support for the church. She also was a member of the Knights of St. John.
Maureen was a widow who left no husband. She is survived, however, by her brother, Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gillespie, a son, Sean David Morton, and many close friends. Friends are invited to attend a celebration of this warm and loving woman on Monday, August 21st, at 11:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Avenue in San Jose. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Camp Hope, P.O. Box 1622, Litchfield, CT 06759, or the National Health Federation, P.O. Box 688, Monrovia, CA 91017. Maureen’s last wishes were to have her life’s works continued.
By Scott C. Tips
Editor of Health Freedom News, Board Member and Legal Counsel for NHF
“Death gives a background to life as night to the stars.” – Charles A. Lindbergh
I remember the very first time that I met Maureen Salaman. It was a clear-blue June day in Los Angeles, California, at one of those airport hotels that populate the LAX area like so many fleas in a park. I had been asked by several board members to attend a critical NHF Board of Governors meeting being held there. And as I walked through the hotel lobby looking for the conference room where the meeting was being held, I evidently just missed bumping into a couple of the corpulent dissident directors who had huffed and puffed their way out of the meeting, headed for the exit.
I found the room, opened the door, and there was Maureen. She was seated facing the door, right at the middle of the big conference-room table, and surrounded by other directors. In a glance, I took in the entire room but then returned to her. She looked radiant and unperturbed. And even though two of the NHF’s most important directors had just quit in a storm, she greeted me with her trademark perfect smile and a “Hello, Scott! So nice to meet you!” that sent a warming welcome directly into my soul.
In that year, 1989, Maureen would have been almost the same age as I am now. Little did I know then how much she would influence and become a part of my life, as she has so many others’, over the next seventeen years.
Her Early Life
Maureen was born in Glendale, California, but did not spend much time there. Her father, an officer in the U.S. Navy, was killed in the closing days of World War II by a Japanese kamikaze pilot that hit his ship while it was supporting amphibious landings in the Northwestern Pacific near Japan. Ironically, her father’s name was Ted Kennedy.
Early on, Maureen moved to San Mateo County, California with her remaining family, where she attended Sacred Heart School, a Catholic school for girls in Menlo Park. Her vivaciousness and popularity revealed itself quickly when Maureen won the United States West Coast Cheerleading Championship. After high school, she became an airline stewardess, during which she won accolades for her ready ability to charm the passengers.
Even later, she studied at and received her degree from the International University of Nutritional Education as well as an honorary Ph.D. from Oral Roberts University. Maureen added to those degrees with a degree in Theology, a subject in which she was quite knowledgeable. The British Guild of Drugless Practitioners also recognized her educational achievements as did the Canadian Council of Professional Certification, through she became a Registered Nutritional Consultant.
In 1957, she married Gerard Morton and they had two children together, first a son, Sean, and then a daughter, Colleen. The marriage did not last, though, and the two divorced. After several years, Maureen remarried – this time to Frank Salaman and, before long, they were both involved in laetrile sales that also led to legal challenges from the authorities and Maureen’s first real exposure to the health-freedom movement.
These health-freedom events, however, really only occurred as a result of Maureen’s first exposure to natural health and nutrition when her beloved friend and mentor, Helen Sweet, told her, “Maureen, I’m dying of cancer. The doctor says I have only months to live.” And upon hearing those words, Maureen launched into a frenzy of caring for her friend. She drove Helen to her chemotherapy treatments, and she helped feed and bathe her.
Helen lacked for nothing during these months, yet Maureen still saw her friend suffer greatly. When the chemotherapy was discontinued, Maureen explored the nutritional route and learned much in the process herself. But it was too little and too late, and Helen died. Maureen was devastated, but it left a searing impression on Maureen to the end of her days. She was determined to learn more about nutrition and to help others do the same.
Thus began Maureen’s world-wide research and writing in the field more than 40 years ago, born of that attempt to save her friend Helen. In the ensuing years, Maureen authored many much-sought-after books, several of which were award-winning bestsellers – Foods That Heal, The Diet Bible, Nutrition: The Cancer Answer, The Light at the End of the Refrigerator-Foods That Heal Companion Cookbook, Nutrition: The Cancer Answer II, All Your Health Questions Answered Naturally, and How To Renew You, as well as numerous booklets such as Achieving Super Immunity, Preventing and Conquering Diabetes, and The Renew You Diet. It was not without reason that Maureen became known as the First Lady of Nutrition.
These books represented years of research, interviews, and deep thought on the role of nutrition in health. Her books, which are still in print with multiple reprintings, have sold many millions of copies throughout the World to people seeking nutritional answers to their health problems.
But Maureen did not just write books, she also wrote articles and columns – and she edited magazines such as Health Freedom News. Health Freedom News was always Maureen’s baby, since she helped launch it in 1982. But not many people know that, prior to that, she had been founder and Assistant Editor for NHF’s predecessor magazine, Public Scrutiny; and she helped use that magazine to promote health-freedom causes.
At one time a columnist for Bestways, a national health magazine, Maureen even contributed articles on health to the National Enquirer so as to reach the broadest audience possible.
Her Public Appearances and Shows
Not content with just being a bestselling author, Maureen also was a speaker of extraordinary ability who knew how to say just those words that could touch and motivate individuals. Because of those skills and talents, she appeared regularly on television and radio programs and even hosted her own television programs, such as Maureen Salaman’s Accent on Health and Making Healthy Choices, reaching in the latter case an incredible 40 million viewers throughout the United States.
Maureen speaks out on health-freedom issues at the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco, 1997
Closer to home, Maureen was always the featured speaker and fundraiser at the Federation’s annual conventions, drawing large, enthusiastic crowds at each of her speeches. They kept coming, year after year, because she spoke to their inner being.
Maureen definitely had a very unique talent for motivating people to take personal action to better their own lives. Frederick Collins once wrote, “There are two types of people. Those who come into a room and say ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say ‘Ah, there you are.’” Mr. Collins obviously never met Maureen, whose blonde helmet of hair, svelte figure, and eye-catching dress could draw all eyes to her at the same time as she re-focused attention upon her audience, whether it was one person or a whole crowd of people. Maureen was a third type of individual, and a most unique one at that.
A Popular NHF President
Maureen was first elected NHF president in 1982, and she served in that capacity – with a few exceptions – until her death this year. She stepped down to become NHF vice president on a couple of occasions so as to allow Hans Kugler and Jonathan Wright to assume the NHF lead mantle, but others urged her to resume the presidency and she did.
At 5’3’’ tall, Maureen was a small but fearless fighter when called to action. Petite, yet willful, Maureen often surprised those who did not know her with the force and persistence of her energy, drive, and intelligence. To those who knew her, though, this was simply vintage Maureen. She was never afraid to wade into the thick of a fight for a cause she believed in.
On more than one occasion, Maureen actually saved the Federation from internal self-destruction due to board-of-director disputes and managerial incompetence. In doing so, however, Maureen knowingly and willingly incurred the fierce wrath of her opponents, who lost every fight they picked with her. Over the years, their harsh venom must have weighed heavily on her shoulders; but Maureen never showed it.
Among other things, Maureen was often accused by her political enemies of being in the Federation only for financial gain. Invariably, from all that I could see and know – and that was a lot since I was at the center of these storms – Maureen’s enemies simply assumed that she was in the organization for the very same reason that they were – to personally gain from the position. That could not have been farther from the truth, she was in it for health freedom, pure and simple. In all of my 17 years of either being on the Board, being General Legal Counsel, or both, I never saw Maureen take even one penny from the Federation. Instead, what I saw were constant and regular donations of cash and books flowing from her to the NHF all the time, coupled with the generous free publicity she gave us through her many television and radio appearances. And in her Will, Maureen practiced what she preached; she has also remembered the NHF and left a bequest to us.
In these many ways, she was always sensitive to the Federation’s membership and its wishes and needs. Sometimes, though, that sensitivity could show up in the most unexpected ways.
One evening, a few years ago, Maureen called me with a hurt tone in her usually cheerful voice. “Scott,” she blurted out, “I just got the election results for the NHF Board and I only received one vote! I can’t believe it, do our members think so little of me? I am going to resign.”
“Maureen . . . ,” I began to say.
“I have worked so hard and put so much into this organization,” she continued, in her disappointment not hearing me speak at all, “I … I just can’t believe it.”
“You weren’t even on the ballot. You are not even up for election this year. That you even got a write-in vote says how much members actually appreciate you.”
“Oh . . . .”
The truth was that the NHF members loved her. With staggered terms, where every year one-third of the Board of Governors must stand for election, Maureen’s time for her to be voted upon came once every three years and she was consistently the highest vote getter of any Board member. That’s how popular she really was.
Paul Taylor, Maureen, and Scott Tips at Lake Tahoe, CA, October 2005
A Champion of Health Freedom
Not many realize this, but all of us owe a very healthy portion of our current health freedoms to this woman of courage. After the chemotherapy had clearly failed to have a beneficial effect upon her dear friend Helen, Maureen began driving Helen to Albany, California to see Dr. John Richardson in the hope that laetrile, one of the natural therapies that he administered there, might still save her. Unfortunately, Helen’s cancer was too far advanced for these last-minute treatments. But what it did accomplish was to introduce Maureen to Dr. Richardson and his many success stories. All the more reason for Maureen to have been shocked when one day in June 1972, with full television coverage, Dr. Richardson’s offices were raided by the State food-and-drug agency and he was carted off in handcuffs for the “crime” of having used laetrile.
Outraged at this conduct, Maureen began a newsletter to raise money for Dr. Richardson’s legal defense. In short order, she had raised $8,000 for his defense; and was never paid even one dime from those funds for her own efforts. Eventually, the doctor was freed; but the State of California then decided to stop all shipments of laetrile into California.
That set Maureen, a tireless campaigner, in whirlwind motion yet again. Using her newsletter to present her case in each of the 50 States, and founding an organization known as The Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy, Maureen lobbied hard in every State for freedom-of-medical-choice legislation. She, her allies, and their supporters succeeded in getting laetrile legalized in 27 of those States – a formidable accomplishment in the face of determined opposition from the American Medical Association.
Soon thereafter, and because of those efforts, Maureen was invited to join the National Health Federation and assist in its fight for health freedom. She soon got her chance when another laetrile-use case arose. NHF Governor James Privitera was using laetrile to treat his own cancer patients; and, unfortunately, California was not one of the States that had legalized laetrile. The State’s so-called Board of Medical Quality Assurance decided to prosecute him for “the crime of the unlawful sale of drugs . . . for the alleviation or cure of cancer.”
The NHF, with Maureen in the lead, raised $5,000 for his defense, a large sum at the time. But in 1975, he was convicted of conspiracy to sell laetrile and sentenced to jail time. His appeal was unsuccessful and he began to serve his sentence. But once again, the Federation took action and gathered more than 10,000 letters of support asking California Governor Jerry Brown to pardon him. The question was how best to present those letters to the Governor.
Well, Maureen being Maureen, she personally went to Sacramento on what was the hottest day of the year and sat outside Governor Brown’s office. Tired of seeing this obviously dedicated woman waiting outside his office, the Governor relented and met with Maureen, who laid out the case as to why Dr. Privitera should be pardoned. The Governor, seeing the letters and hearing Maureen’s arguments, was convinced and soon issued the pardon. Dr. Privitera was released and returned to his medical practice.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Maureen once single-handedly prevented dietary supplements from being subjected to harsh postal restrictions by commandeering an airplane seat next to Representative Claude Pepper (D-FL), the sponsoring congressman of that atrocious bill, as he returned home and convincing him by the end of the flight to withdraw his bill. Had she not succeeded, Representative Pepper (a former U.S. Senator as well) would have successfully passed an Orwellian thought-police bill in the early 1980s that would have prohibited all United States residents from obtaining any material through the mails – or by any other means such as radio, television, and newspapers – that went “against the weight of scientific and medical opinion.” Imagine that, all alternative health information, even health books and magazines such as this one, would have been shut out totally from any of the normal channels of distribution. And the NHF, but especially our diminutive Maureen, stopped this law from being passed.
More recently, Maureen also helped direct the NHF’s efforts towards the passage of the all-important Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, and then gave me the firm go-ahead to my suggestion that we begin NHF’s efforts at the Codex Alimentarius Commission and Committee meetings to slow down or stop the looming Codex restrictions on vitamins and minerals, which efforts continue to this very day.
In 2005, the NHF awarded Maureen its Health Freedom Hero award for a lifetime of achievement in promoting health freedom. Given her many, successful contributions, the Award was long overdue; but Maureen had kept insisting that others receive the Award instead – until the others of us became even more insistent. After receiving it (see HFN, Vol. 24, No.1, p. 28), Maureen was greatly touched and so highly valued the Award that she placed it in a special location in her home.
A Hard-Working, Smart Businesswoman
Besides her prolific writing and speaking, Maureen took the time to be heavily involved in two businesses – one was her book-publishing business, MKS, Inc.; and the other was as spokeswoman for Maximum Living, Inc., a dietary-supplement business that sold the kind of nutrients in which she could believe.
Due to her efforts over many years, both businesses became highly successful and continue operating to this day. Among her wishes was that these businesses maintain and expand their product line so that customers, many of whom she had known for years, would not be disappointed.
Maureen at American military gravesites in Normandy
Above all, Maureen was a true patriot who believed in the U.S. Constitution and that America should be governed by laws and not by whim. She despised the tangle of rules and regulations that today bind down Americans and keep them from being free, productive, and happy. Maureen practiced her beliefs, spoke out knowledgeably on numerous political issues, and was well known for buying large quantities of political books that she favored and then passing them out to her friends and acquaintances.
In 1984, she was the vice presidential candidate for the Populist Party, a party that she had helped to found. Although as history shows her ticket did not win, this political campaign was yet further evidence of her fervent beliefs and her attempts to make sure that this country – her country – did not fall prey to tyranny.
Gen. James L. Jones, Maureen, and Scott Tips at Navy League Dinner in Cannes, France,
May 29, 2000
In 2006, just a few months ago – and after several years of attendance at the annual commemoration ceremonies of the World War II D-Day landings in Normandy, France – Maureen was asked to give the memorial speech at the 62nd anniversary commemoration of the invasion in the small French town of Sainte Mere Eglise, which as many know through their study of history and the popular film The Longest Day had been the landing site of American paratroopers. Maureen’s close friend, Maurice Renaud (the son of the mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise at the time of the landings), was always present and helpful to Maureen during these visits. On this most recent occasion, Maureen was awarded a medal from the American parachutist veterans’ organization (the C-47 Club) in appreciation of all of her efforts on their behalf. It was her last of many trips to France and Europe.
And A Lover of Animals
Everyone who knew Maureen could not help but also know her animals. Often, Maureen could be seen at the bank, an outdoor restaurant, and even at shopping centers and department stores with her Great Dane in tow. Petite Maureen with her huge Great Dane made a noticeable sight in public. Whether it was Fred, Tut, or Duke, depending upon which year, everyone from the mailman coming to the house or the littlest baby in a stroller at the mall got to know and love those Great Danes. They were one of her true loves. And they returned that love in spades. Duke, the last of her line of Great Danes, was nearby when Maureen passed at her home; and, later, when the strangers came from the funeral home, he barked long and fiercely, forbidding them from taking her away.
But Maureen loved cats equally. She was forever rescuing and giving a welcome home to strays that came to her attention. They stayed with her until she could find them a decent home, often spending large sums of money to ensure their health and well-being. Some she kept and they lacked for nothing under her care. Her love was returned, as I could clearly see, when for several days after her passing, I would find her black cat – a rescue of course – still waiting for her on her empty bed.
Happy Cat and Maureen
A true lover of animals, Maureen would not hesitate for a New York minute to rush to the aid of any distressed animal. To that end, Maureen gave generously and continuously to Pets In Need, Inc., a local animal rescue charity, upon whose board of directors she also served.
Generous to a fault, Maureen was always quickly ready to pull out her checkbook to fund worthy charities. At the top of the list, though, was Camp Hope, a Connecticut-based charity that provides numerous inner-city children the chance each year to get out of the city and spend time in a country environment. For many of them, it would be the only time they could escape the drabness of inner-city existence.
The Camp Hope children show their appreciation to Maureen
Maureen was the sole support for many years for this Camp. She, and she alone, was the only reason that hundreds of these children, year after year, could experience real forests, real lakes, and clean, stress-free air filling their lungs. But for Maureen, and her generosity, Camp Hope would have foundered years ago.
Maureen and Ross Gordon
Perhaps it started almost seven years ago when her beloved husband, Dr. Ross Gordon, died too early in life and left a gaping hole in her heart. There is no question that Maureen missed him utterly; and she threw herself even more into her work, her speaking, her health-freedom work, her charities, and her social life in an effort to forget that pain. Her strong and deep-seated Christian faith also sustained her.
Perhaps it was genetically predisposed. At present there is indication that Maureen may have had a genetic predisposition to the disease that took her life.
Most certainly, it was the tremendous personal stress that Maureen felt – but rarely showed – from attacks made upon her during the last two years of her life and to which I can attest personally as a witness. We first knew that it had affected her physically when, late one night, a year ago in August, while I was staying at her home in Atherton, she came downstairs to get me and ask that I drive her to the hospital as she was suffering from abdominal pain. It was fortuitous that I was even there, since I often was not; and she was in too much pain to drive. I drove her to the local hospital and stayed with her there during the night while she was eventually seen by the doctors and tests were conducted. I then drove her home as dawn was about to break, both of us thinking more than talking about what she had just experienced.
Much later the results came back, but the doctors could not at first agree on what Maureen had. Eventually, the diagnosis was confirmed as being pancreatic cancer. Maureen immediately went into her usual take-charge mode and arranged treatment at Dr. Brodie’s clinic in Reno, Nevada. Unfortunately for both of them, Dr. Brodie died while Maureen was still undergoing treatments and she felt compelled to seek treatment elsewhere.
With an original diagnosis of six months to live, Maureen did surprisingly well – surpassing the estimate by two-fold. She was clearly hardy and strong, despite the cancer. Many times, especially in the late Spring, she actually seemed even stronger than ever. She acted normally and continued to make plans for the future.
But in the end, she started to slip away ever more quickly. She flatly refused to be stuck in some sterile hospital, even checked herself out, and returned home to be in a more comfortable, familiar, and loving environment during her last days. She made it very clear that she did not want to end her last days on Earth hooked up to machines and tubing and with artificial fluorescent lighting as her only reminder of the Sun.
When I heard what condition she was in, I flew to California just in time to be with her and two of her closest friends at her bedside when she passed away at her home in the early morning of August 17th. Her passing was peaceful and without pain, her right hand resting as she would have wanted it upon her personal, well-read and marked-up Bible, with soft music playing in the background, and surrounded by friends. It was Maureen’s style – to the very end.
Ode to Maureen Kennedy Salaman
By Dr. Murray Susser
I wish to announce to you with greatest sorrow that our beloved Maureen has passed from us. This small body had innate strength, dignity and grace, which she used to fight her finally victorious opponent. She chose the way she would engage in this last battle. It was a brave, courageous fight, not unexpected for one who routinely demonstrated those qualities throughout her life. She faced the realities of life with honesty and absolute bravery. She was not afraid of death as she took great comfort from her true religious devotion. Her Christian theology was a part of her daily life and her knowledge of the spiritual world, I know, helped her in her journey to her God. I want to express my admiration for her courage.
The beautiful Maureen was a great lady of multiple talents, a diminutive dynamo and a great writer who astonished us all with the magnitude of her prolific accomplishments. Maureen was a charismatic TV personality who was active in many philanthropic and charitable organizations. For nearly twenty years, Maureen was the President of the National Health Federation. She was devoted to Camp Hope, sending thousands of children from the inner city to enjoy summers in nature. Maureen had a great love of animals and leaves a legacy of perpetual care for animal charities.
She had a great sense of humor and loved to both tell and hear jokes. Her innate femininity and instinct for glamour prompted her friend, Nolan Miller, to sign a photo to her of him surrounded by the Dynasty women saying; “To the real glamour girl who should have been in this picture!” She had unlimited generosity for her friends (and even for some who were not her friends). Maureen may have seen things definitively as black or white… not many shades of gray, but she always did what she believed was right and she did so much for so many people.
Few wear their patriotism as unabashedly and proudly as my dear Maureen. She would declare her devotion and appreciation for America to anyone who would listen. She was never intimidated and always expressed her opinions. She took a stand, no matter what popular wind might try to dim the luster of America in the world.
She was involved in an organization to defend and support P.O.W.’s. Her unyielding devotion to WWII veterans knew no bounds. She would never forget their sacrifices and carried the torch of undying gratitude for her heroes. She deeply appreciated the fact that their sacrifices gave her the right to live in freedom. As a result, she daily lived the privilege of “Carpe Diem”, or “seize the day” and therefore felt the imperative to make the most of everyday. This spirit made her both passionate in her pursuits and loving in her daily efforts to make the most of life for herself while, at the same time, encouraging others to do so, which, in the end, she most surely did. She was a role model and inspiration for many. During the last few years she took several trips to Normandy for D-Day celebrations and, this year, in spite of her illness, which she know to be terminal, she decided to come to Sainte Mere Eglise anyway. There, on D-Day Maureen presented a speech after being given an honorary medal from the veterans C-47 Club. Her speech, which she had written for her heroes, veterans who risked their lives in defense of our freedom, was both moving and ultimately poignant. She wrote: “Heroes inspire others with their bravery, their compassion, their strength, their character and their sacrifice. Unheralded and largely unnoticed, they go about their lives of serving and protecting with responsibility and patient endurance and a sense of honor. They light the way for the rest of us to follow when times are dark.” Maureen, you have been a light of optimism with the determination to prevail and shine throughout your life, my darling… and, as with your heroes, with you too…… it is little wonder that the world seems so empty now that you are gone.
In her speech, Maureen had quoted a 23 year old Hungarian girl, the night before her death by firing squad, who wrote; “There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for Mankind.” My darling Maureen, I know you smile down upon us now with your beautiful Irish eyes from the place in your heaven where you will always shine brightest of all the stars.