In Memory…

This is a page for you to share your thoughts and feelings about peer support leaders who have made significant contributions who have been lost in recent years. Add memories and ways these people have changed your perspectives and practice of peer support.

Pat Risser: Advocate, 2011 Voice Award Recipient, Spokesperson for Trauma-Informed Practices


Visit his home page: 


View short clip of Pat before receiving the 2011 SAMHSA Voice Award

Tributes seen on the web:

(Mad in America) Pat Risser, who has been a leading voice in the psychiatric survivor movement for decades, died on Wednesday (June 15, 2016) of heart failure. Mr. Risser, who was once diagnosed with schizophrenia, wrote and spoke elegantly about trauma, including the horrible abuse he had suffered as a child, the fight for civil rights in the mental health system and in society, and of the many destructive elements of the psychiatric system. He published many papers on these topics and, as a mental health consultant, gave presentations and workshops to survivor groups and professional groups, his voice recognized for its power and authority. He spent his last years living in Ohio. He was 63.


Recovery Is Beautiful would like to send our sincerest condolences to those who knew Pat Risser, a founding member of the Recovery Is Beautiful Advisory Committee, who passed away last week.

Have you ever met someone and immediately thought, “this person is making a difference”?  That’s what happened when individuals met Pat. He wasn’t just an advocate for the mental health community, he was a champion in showing others how to use their lived experience to promote change moving forward. He leaves a legacy of his advocacy and activism for human rights and social justice.

(For more, visit the Recovery is Beautiful Tribute Blog)

(from Facebook) I saw this and it reminded me of you.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

(From Facebook) When I learned of Pat’s death my heart was deeply saddened. Pat was a champion, he was a powerful voice in a movement that challenged the system to respond to the strengths, accomplishments, potential and possibility inherent in all people. He gave voice to the need to listen to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of those who courageously coped each day with the challenges of mental illness. He was a leader, a visionary, a gentle giant; whose tireless advocacy benefited people all across the nation. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to listen and learn from his lived wisdom…his passion for the cause of social justice and equal opportunity was always conveyed with an incredible sense of humor, laughter and joy. He was a gentle giant in the movement that transformed the mental Heath system in this country. His voice may now be silent. But his powerful message will live on. Thank you my friend. You have touched the lives of so many. Well done. Well done.

Sally Clay, Civil Rights and Consumer Activist, Author – On Our Own Together


Sally Clay, Author – On Our Own Together 


Friends are Dying– by Gayle Bluebird
(for My friend Sally Clay)

Your heart takes
a leap
when you hear
someone else
has died;
someone you shared
laughter with,
tears with,
writing books with,
organized with,
remembering the
bathing suit I wore,
we called, “rather
ravishing” or the
conferences we were
at– the radical politics,
the forward thinking
approaches to mental
the leaning towards
Secrets we shared–
The little house with
the lake behind, stepping
into that lake, watching
for crocodiles?
No one wants too long
a poem, the knowledge
I share is not the knowledge
you know,
but it is the knowledge we
all know,
the sadness when someone
leaves us,
We were the same age
Blessed I am to still be here to
mourn her.

Charles Willis, Georgia Certified Peer Support Specialist and Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator

“The secret to happiness is finding your inner self.” ~Charles Willis

video - Charles Willis with Melody Favor

“I wanna be a CPS like Charles Willis” video: 3:38 min.

Through a long battle with illness, Charles Willis never lost the things that made him so memorable and so impactful; his infectious energy; his ceaseless empathy; and his ability to light even the darkest night with his smile. ~ Nick Calhoun

Charles was that person that helped me any way that he could. He always woke up with joy and happiness and he was always ready to take the day. Nomatter what came into my life, Charles always said, “you can overcome it, you can do it.”

Charles was an example of a peer; a real model. I am where I am because of Charles’. He inspired me to go places I never thought I would go. Charles will always be in my heart.

Nomatter what confronted him, he was always grateful, gracious, and kind… People would poke at him and he would still be kind. He would face the most difficult things with kindness. And he made that choice again, and again. That’s just how he was in the world.

My memory of Charles was that he kept telling you to believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything you want, and never stop moving forward with your life.

He just had so much energy it made you tired just to work in the same office with him….

He made me feel special. He made everyone feel special. In fact, as I look around the room, we’re ALL Charles Willis’ special friends!


Judi Chamberlin, Activist, Author, Leader, one of the founders of the mental patients’ liberation movement


Author, On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System


A message from David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International (2010):

I received sad news from several good friends of long-time mad movement activist Judi Chamberlin in Massachusetts. I’m sorry to provide this news to you all by Internet, but Judi died on Saturday evening, 16 January 2010, at the age of 65. I send my support to Judi’s relatives and friends, and everyone who admired and loved her.

Many were aware that she was in hospice for some time. True to the amazing passionate and practical person she was, Judi had a hospice activist blog. You may click here to get to the blog, or you can find via Google with these words:

    Judi Chamberlin hospice blog

Judi’s family and friends have a message on the blog, and they are encouraging comments to remember Judi there. Judi has been a good personal friend of mine since we met in Mental Patients Liberation Front in 1976, and she has been a unifying leader with so many organizations in our mad movement, including for many years on the board of directors of MindFreedom International.

Judi has sometimes been called the “grandmother” of the mad movement, beginning with her pioneering work for empowering alternatives for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors with her book “On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System” (1978).

I’m sure there will be information and remembrances soon about this remarkable heroine and human being. While she was alive, Judi’s friends and relatives held a celebration of her life this past 20 August 2009. I’m told Judi appreciated the YouTube video I contributed to the memorial.

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