Carol “Carrie” Dearborn, disabled rights advocate and writer from Jamaica Plain, died March 20 after choosing hospice instead of further intensive treatment at the hospital.
Carrie was a 27-year-old computer technician and downhill ski instructor on Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and at Blue Hills Ski in Canton, MA, in 1981 when she suffered a massive stroke caused by malformed blood vessels. After months in a coma, she recovered consciousness and spent years in rehab learning how to speak, move her limbs, and live independently. In 2012 she published Quiet In The Tornado: A Disability Primer, a collection of short, humorous essays designed to meet the need that Carrie had felt as she was recovering from her stroke.
Born in Schenectady, NY in 1954, Carrie grew up in Connecticut and spent summers at Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. She was a competitive ski racer in elementary school in the slalom and the giant slalom. Carrie excelled in school as well on the slopes, graduating from Cheshire High School, in Cheshire, CT in 1972, and New England College with a degree in Philosophy in 1976.
After college, Carrie moved to Boston to write for the New England Women’s Yellow Pages, a feminist publication. She later worked with computers and always found time to write. Carrie loved mountain climbing and camping, and became involved with the gay community after coming out as a lesbian.
After her stroke and year of practice in independent living with paralysis, Carrie began volunteering at Boston Independent Living Center and Health Care for All as an advocate. She was among the scores of disabled demonstrators who camped outside Governor Weld’s office for 9 days in 1991, demanding restoration of funding for Personal Care Attendants.
Carrie continued to write, publishing in various journals including Gay Community News and Sojourner in the 1980s and 1990s. She also became a “sit-down” comic, with performances at Chrone’s Harvest in Jamaica Plain, the Comedy Connection in Faneuil Hall, and during fundraisers for Boston Center for Independent Living.
Carrie loved gardening, politics, and books. She attended services at Old South Church, Boston, and United Parish of Brookline. Predeceased by her parents, Neil and Jean Dearborn, she is survived by her two brothers, Russell and David, David’ wife Jeanette, many beloved nieces and nephews, and Marie St. Dic, her PCA for 33 years.
A memorial service will be held on May 12 at 11 a.m. at Old South Church, Boston.