Missing Laura.
by Mike Reynolds for Ability Maine

I remember the first time I read about Laura Hershey. I was 17, before I even knew what the internet was and forced to use this microfiche service called News Index and their was an anthology I saw in one article, it was literally just pure luck as one microfiche had 50+ stories on it and often times I’d find the one article I was looking for then look at the 10 articles before and after. It was this method I found the first disabled writers anthology I ever bought (and I think I bought it right from the school librarians. I devoured it, and the only memory I have is that Cheryl Marie Wade was also in it. I found the news paper review, but I cannot find the book itself at the moment. Later that year I found out that the Portland library had an archive of “The Disability Rag” and read every issue one Saturday afternoon, and saw more of Laura’s work.  I figured she’d be on Oprah soon, or on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Her writing was pretty incredible.
    The first time we sort of crossed paths, we didn’t actually meet, but she covered an off-Broadway play John Hockenberry was in and I guess the folks from Mouth magazine went with Laura and her spouse, Robin. I also went to the play, different day, on a godawfully long trip from Maine to NYC and back in less than 36 hours. Her article appeared in New Mobility, my thesis was where my thoughts on the play ended up. But I knew she had to be cool if she could cover John Hockenberry.
    A little less than a year later, I met Laura at the 1997 Supreme Court Not Dead Yet action. I was such a fan boy and Laura was really sweet to not make fun of how much of a fan boy I was. Laura was on the board of Not Dead Yet and would continue to be a very strong presence in many disability rights struggles. She was a strong feminist voice speaking out on the Terri Schiavo affair, She was a thorn in Jerry Lewis’s (and the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s) pity fest.  She was the principal activist to start the whole activism around Mr. Lewis receiving the Hersholt Oscar for “humanitarian” work.
   She was a force to be reckoned with, and her depth of writing was stunning. She was a frequent contributor to Huffington Post - Denver and blogged for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Association. Her last two pieces were on Sexuality and Disability by interviewing Bethany Stevens, a professor based in Atlanta. Her last piece was on Gratitude, timed for Thanksgiving, after going to Disneyland with her adopted daughter and her spouse, Robin. A memorial is planned for the Spring Equinox.