Posted 6 July 2005
A Tribute to Randy Witter
Late in 2004, I received an email from a gentleman in California who was living
with early-stage Alzheimer disease. I correspond regularly with patients and their
families and am amazed and humbled by how many of them respond to their diagnosis
by volunteering for research. This particular letter made an especially deep impression.
Its author was not able to follow through on his intent because of his untimely
death. His widow generously agreed to let us post this correspondence as our way
of paying respect to his spirit and inspiring example. —June Kinoshita, Executive
I do not need technical assistance myself, but am looking for a way I may contribute
to the research effort. I am a recently diagnosed victim[?] of Alzheimer's disease.
I have now only mild symptoms of memory loss and misuse of words. I also recently
made a socially unacceptable faux pas. I want to find some way I may contribute
to discovery of a cure or prophylactic. Is there near me a study of some sort of
which I could be a member? I live in Valley Springs, California, about 30 miles
east of Stockton, CA, about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento, CA, in the low foothills
in Calaveras County. I wish so much to help. Please advise, and Thank You.
Monday, January 24, 2005 11:55 AM
Dear Mr. Witter,
Thank you for posting your question. Your interest in participating in research
is very commendable. I suggest that you contact the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease
research center. They have a number of studies that may be of interest to you: http://alzheimer.ucdavis.edu/research/projects.php
I hope this information is helpful.
With best wishes,
Alzheimer Research Forum
Feb 6, 2005, at 2:25 AM
Thank you for the information but with sadness I have to tell you that Randy passed
away on January 5th. At the present time, I will no longer need your e-mails.
Feb 6, 2005, at 9:20 AM
I am so sorry to hear that Randy has passed on. Although we rarely meet our email
correspondents face to face, each is a member of our community and we truly feel
the loss. Randy's note made an impact on us, for its selflessness and generosity
of spirit. We would like to honor his memory in some way. If you would like us to
post a story or texts about him to share with our readers what kind of person he
was, we would be honored.
Mar 24, 2005, at 10:57 AM, Barbara/Randy Witter wrote:
Thank you for your kind words. I am still getting over the loss. Randy was just
beginning to have some major difficulties with Alzheimer's when he died from a massive
heart attack on the 5th of January.
Randy was a very special man with deep faith, who turned his early retirement into
an opportunity to volunteer in the community. He was active in his church and founder
of the Community United Methodist Church Community Food Pantry which served so many
in this area over the last couple of years. Previously, Randy had also been a volunteer
fire fighter and engineer with Jenny Lind Fire Department, where he also served
as a first responder. He also was able to provide medical transportation to seniors
until he was no longer able to drive.
Here is a picture Randy loved best that was taken in December with his daughter
and her boys.
It wasn't just what he did in life that made him special, but his attitude toward
living. We were not only husband and wife, but also best friends. I felt cherished
until the day he died and hope he felt the same. Randy usually had a smile on his
face and a joke or two to share. Many remarked at his memorial service that he certainly
was a "character," and that was true. You seldom saw him without his western hat
and boots around town. He had such a marvelous intellect and was able to recall
more trivia than most of us learn in the first place. When he was diagnosed with
Alzheimers, his whole world came apart for a couple of months and then he accepted
it, vowing to do all he could while he could. Alzheimer's was such a blow to his
sense of self and all he was so proud of being and doing.
It came as no surprise that he would want to volunteer for a study or clinical trial
that would help others, even when he knew he probably would not benefit from it.
He was just that way and convinced that someday soon, others would not have to deal
with the tragedies of this disease.
I do wish you so much positive in terms of discoveries at the Forum. Thank you for
your interest and kind words about Randy.