Madison - Cynthia Joy Laitman died on February 19, 2010, from brain cancer, surrounded by her loving family. She was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, the first daughter of Molly and Sidney Laitman. A buoyant and youthful spirit, Cynthia believed that anything was possible. After graduating from Queens College in 1959 with a degree in biology, she worked for Sloan-Kettering and Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to Madison in 1972. While raising two daughters and working full time, Cynthia wrote " DES: The Complete Story," which remains one of the definitive works on the subject. She went on to build a long and productive career as a medical writer, working for the University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery, the National Wildlife Health Center, the World Health Organization, and as the managing editor of the Annals of Surgery. She was especially proud to earn her Ph.D. in Medical Communications at the age of 63. In her final years she became a committed activist to a host of progressive causes, most recently helping to found and serving as the director of TeleTruth Wisconsin. She was a passionate advocate of human and animal rights and social justice, and a fearless opponent of corporate greed and the abuse of power in government. In 2007, Bill Moyer's Journal "shadowed" her for a day as she went about lobbying the Wisconsin legislature as a grassroots activist fighting for consumer protection against huge corporate interests. She will always be remembered for her warmth and generosity, her wit and brilliance, her exuberance and unflagging optimism, and her great big heart. She set a rare example of courage combined with compassion that inspired everyone who knew her. Her life and her legacy is a blessing to all of us. She is survived by her beloved family: her daughters Kate Orenberg and Rachel Charlan, son-in-law Herb Charlan, grandchildren Cecelia Charlan and Wyatt Charlan, sister Judith Laitman and a half sister, Lillian. She was preceded in death by her parents Molly and Sidney Laitman. The family is profoundly grateful to all of Cynthia's wonderful friends whose devotion and support gave so much comfort and joy throughout Cynthia's illness and before. Funeral services will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Spreedway Rd, on Monday, Feburary 22, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. with Cantor Deborah Martin officiating. Burial will be held at Forest Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, kindly make donations to Doctors w/o Borders, PETA, ACLU, or Democracy for America.
Cynthia was tireless, trusted comrade. Her efforts on behalf of PEG access in Wisconsin was a tremendous boost to me at a time when it was of critical need. I'm not sure I ever expressed the depth of my gratitude to her. I guess I assumed that I had time. I'm sorry for your loss. Joel Desprez, past-president, WAPC
I got to know Cynthia as we volunteered for the Howard Dean campaign. I admired her professionalism, creativity and commitment to progressive causes. Above all, though, she was a warm and curious person, devoted to making the world a better place.
Dear Kate, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray the beautiful memories of this courageous woman spur you on and that comfort from the Scriptures likewise help you endure (Job 14:14-15) and look to the future with confidence.
Kate, I always loved going to your house because your mom would make me laugh. Even in the depths of my sullen teen years she cracked me up. From her non-use of turn signals when driving us around to her advice about men ("find one who sings in the shower and can dance in hiking boots") to her hospitality for Gillian and I when we visited her in Switzerland, I have fond memories of her. She was a remarkable woman. I'm thankful to have known her a little bit.
My condolences. Her death is tragic and comes much too soon, for she had so much more to give.
It was an honor to know Cynthia while we were involved with Democracy for Wisconsin. She was committed to changing things for the positive and working for progressive causes. Cynthia always full of ideas and the commitment to making those ideas work. She will be missed so very much in our community.
Kate and Rachel- I remember your Mom fondly from the many times I met her when we were kids; coming over for holidays, sharing great food, and hanging out at your house over the years. I remember first being inspired by what I considered a really courageous move out of country to work for WHO, then in her everday actions like sharing her home with foriegn students attending local conferences, and later by her return to school for her PhD. She was a truly wonderful woman who lived her values in so many ways. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Dear Kate: Your mother was a remarkable woman with many wonderful achievements. I'm sure, however, that she considered her children her greatest success. I am thinking of you and your family!
Kate, Your mom sounds like an amazing woman who packed a lot in a life that was too short. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Thinking of you and wishing you peace, Sandy Kallio
A life well lived is a life well remembered. Ms. Laitman left a legacy of intellectual brilliance, love and caring for the world. From stories I head from her daughter Kate, she was a remarkable woman and a human treasure. Her life will be fondly remembered by many. God Bless.
Cynthia and I met many years ago through DES Action. I am a DES Daughter and for many years served on the Board of Directors for the organization. We had numerous opportunities over the years to meet at varioius meetings and catch up on each other's lives. I was very proud and happy to follow her journey as she worked towards her PhD. In those days we emailed each other throughout the year. Cynthia and I both loved cats, although she had many more at any one time than I did, and for several years I sent her every cat joke, story or pictures that came my way. She never failed to send me a "thank you" or a comment about how cute or funny the email was. Cynthia and I also shared having an adopted child, something that I believe forges a special bond that transcends how often people see each other or talk with each other, and makes the lapses of time evaporate when they meet again. Please know that Cynthia touched many lives. I have more than one copy of her book (one autographed), and many people who have known me have her book because I have suggested they buy it. Cynthia was a great lady in so many ways. I wish I had known her better, but my life is far richer for having known her as I did.
I was shocked to learn that Cynthia Laitman, whom I so much admired, had passed away. My sympathies to family members. I was a faculty member in the Dept. of Life Sciences Communication during most of Cynthia's graduate work. She was a brilliant student, a great person to converse with about a broad range of topics, and a dear friend. She put into practice and worked for many causes that most of us just talk about. She leaves us all too soon, but the mark she has made on this world will be evident for a long time.
What a beautiful person. There's no doubt that she will be profoundly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time.
I am sorry to hear of Cynthia's passing. In addition to her long list of courageous work on behalf of progressive causes, add service in support of issues important to women, including women's health. Cynthia served as a board member of the Wisconsin Women's Network where she shared her ebullient spirit and personal experience. Kind regards and condolences to her family.
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