Carol Van Sun On Friday, many of us got a note from Maureen, Lou and Jennifer at Child Health BC:

“Carol Matusicky peacefully passed away this morning [December 5th] at her home and in the presence of her family.” They added, “We all valued her passion and can-do attitude, as well her knowledge and experience, around our BC Healthy Child Development Alliance table. We will miss her.”

Carol Matusicky was honoured with a Lifetime of Distinguished Service to Families award from the B.C. Council for Families in June of this year.

A Burnaby Now Article at the time noted Carol was a “renowned family advocate and former executive director with the B.C. Council for Families, a non­profit which advocates for healthy families in a healthy society. Some of the council’s initiatives during Matusicky’s watch include establishing a network of practitioners who work with teen parents, a network promoting positive parenting for fathers, another network focused on work­life issues, and various parenting programs, all of which are still available to B.C. families today. Matusicky has also sat on 25 provincial government task forces and advisory committees, always with a focus on helping families? again, stressing prevention.”

The news of Carol’s passing released a flood of thoughts from those who worked with her at Board Voice.

Dawn Hemingway wrote: “Carol was an exceptional woman who contributed so much in so many ways and touched so many of us – even from a distance. I’m so glad she was honored at the conference and that we all had the opportunity to spend some time with her. ?I’ll always remember her uncanny ability to connect with people and to bring out the best in everyone. Her memory lives on in our collective work to build a better world.

Leslie Welin: “It was an honour to have been a colleague of Carol’s for the past 15 years. Being able to spend time with her and Leo [Carol’s husband] last Friday was a privilege.”

Doug Hayman spent a lot of time with Carol as her Executive Coordinator at Board Voice. “We have lost a special person and I will miss her. I am pleased that Carol hung on for our conference. She was so happy to be there.”

Terry Moist: “Carol was one of those very rare people who could connect immediately. When I met Carol, I felt that I’d known her all my life. I am so glad to have shared in her wisdom.”

Ron Birch wrote: “She was an inspiration to all of us, in particular these last couple of years! Yes, Carol you will be greatly missed.”

Rick Marshall noted: “Her life and work remain inspirational to us who were fortunate to have known her.

Ever gracious, she continually and selflessly made others feel we were special and our efforts worthy, while clearly stating the important work to be done to give all children the opportunity to be loved, valued and to realize their potential in a caring society.”

I only knew Carol for three years. She welcomed me on to the Board and mentored me in the ways of Board Voice and the sector.

In the summer of 2013, we noticed Carol was having trouble holding things in her hands, as though she was arthritic. She told us she had ALS. Then in November of 2013, when she realized how rapidly ALS was undermining her ability to function effectively, she asked if I would take over as Chair of the board.

I marveled at her implausibly positive attitude in the face of cruel adversity. She fully knew where ALS would go, but remained upbeat and encouraging to those around her. She insisted on staying on the board and participating in committees and events.Carol Conference

I came to realize that beneath her warm exterior, Carol was a tough fighter. In the midst of her own struggles, Leo had health issues as well, and still they soldiered on, supporting each other with obvious affection and humour.

It was shocking to see how rapidly ALS attacked Carol’s body. At the conference one week ago, she could no longer eat solid food and had lost 35 pounds. She was wheelchair bound and her voice was reduced to a whisper. But it could not still her humour. At one point, David Young remarked that she and Leo had been together for 40 years and Carol, quick as a whip, remarked “And that’s a chunk ‘a change.”

Carol was a tireless advocate for children and families, and a warm and inspiring presence in so many of our lives. Though we knew it was coming, we are still stunned she is gone. Her good work is all around, to remind us of her. She will stay in our hearts for a long time to come.