NYAPRS Note: The following moving tribute comes from Bryan O’Malley, executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program that Constance Laymon championed for so long.
Constance Laymon was such a passionate relentless advocate for people with disabilities across our state. For the past decade, I sat next to her at meetings of the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council, NYS’ Olmstead Planning body that has yet to develop such a Plan. Constance never left the truth unsaid and regularly railed against inaction, injustice and the policies of segregation and discrimination. She always came prepared and always knew the issues inside out.
Her great big heart will be sorely missed. Let’s hope the New York State Olmstead Plan that’s expected to be finalized this fall will provide the details and scope and hope for people with disabilities for which Constance worked so tirelessly.
We will miss her terribly.
Bryan indicates that a formal viewing will be held on Saturday, September 29 from 2 - 5 pm. It will take place at New Comer Cannon Funeral Home, located on Route 155 (New Karner Rd.) in Albany between Washington Ave. Extension and Central Avenue.
It is with a very heavy heart that I am letting you know that Constance Laymon, someone I am proud to have known and been able to call a friend, one of the pioneers of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, and the definition of a leader, has passed away.
Constance was a lot of things. She was a fighter. She was a bureaucrat. She was a fly in the ointment. She was a fountain of information. She would never take no for an answer. She was a role model for many. She was a pillar of support for many more.
It didn’t matter who you were. Constance had time for you. She would field calls from people around the state to give them advice and guidance on how to work with CDPAP. She talked to consumers at all hours of the day and night. She was the only person who sent you more e-mails at 1 am than 1 pm. She was a tireless advocate. Not just for herself or the program – but for every person in the state who is using the program or might one day use the program.
I could go on and on. Her legacy will be one that lives forever. I was going to type all of Constance’s many achievements here. However, I don’t think that is what she would have wanted. Constance put the community first. She fought not for herself, but for more inclusion, for less paternalism, for less medicalization, and for greater independence. If these things happened for everyone – they would happen for her; but they could not happen for only her.
A lot will be written about her in the upcoming days and weeks. But to be honest, for one of the first times in my life, I don’t know what to write.
All I am going to do is ask you to remember Constance. She wouldn’t want me to tell you how to remember her, so don’t remember her in the way I or anyone else tells you. Remember her the way you knew her. Because we all knew Constance, but we all knew her for different reasons and in different ways. And while she meant a lot to all of us, she meant something different to all of us.
Thank you Constance – for everything. You may not have believed in an afterlife; but you will live on in the hearts, minds and independence of us all.