In Memoriam

Caitlin Wright Binning

June 29, 1966 - July 25, 2003

Caitlin made a concrete, identifiable difference in the lives of thousands of persons

I can't tell you how sorry I am at Caitlin's passing. She was a wonderful person who we will miss very, very much.

Caitlin and I had a relationship that was based on friendship and professional respect. I will always cherish it. It was a privilege to know her and work with her - she made me do my best and never accepted any compromising weaseling. She made everyone that worked with her want to do a good job to get her respect.

Without her leadership and dogged determination, NAMI would not have accomplished any of the things that it did while she worked there. It's not often that you can say that one person made a concrete, identifiable difference in the lives of thousands of persons. But I can say that about Caitlin.

The Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity legislation was her idea - she thought it up, sold it to legislators and the press, and never gave up on getting it passed. I can't tell you how good it felt to read -- when the law went into effect - that 25 wrongfully imprisoned persons had regained their freedom. Some had been locked up for over 10 years and had no relief in sight. I hope they know that Caitlin was the one who set them free.

Almost every day I read about how the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy is filing lawsuits to protect the disabled. Without Caitlin, that agency would be a pale shadow of its current self. Back when Gilmore was Governor, we had a chance to make a compromise which gave the agency more independence but which still subjected it to the Governor's oversight. I wanted to make the deal because, I figured, "a bird in the hand . . ."  "Blah, blah, blah," Caitlin said, God bless her, and we didn't make the deal. She insisted -- and demanded -- that we do it right. And we did it right.

On a personal level, I can't say too much about how sweet Caitlin was with my little girl Alexa. Caitlin sent the nicest baby gift and asked for lots of pictures - she obviously loved children. We were trying to schedule a time for Alexa to visit Caitlin when her illness intervened. I look forward to telling Alexa about brave Caitlin who always stuck up for the vulnerable and never looked back.

Tim, you were Caitlin's brightest star. The wonderful effect that you had on her was clear to everyone. It was obvious that - more than anything - you made each other laugh and smile. I can think of no better sign of a great marriage.

It is devastating to lose a loved one. My father's death when I was 18 took a piece of my heart that seems irreplaceable. But my fond memories, friends, and family have been an incredible help. I know that your cherished memories of Caitlin and your family and friends will support you on your journey. Please call on us for help or to just talk about Caitlin. We will always have you and Caitlin in our thoughts and hearts.

Yours truly, Alexander
(Note: Alexander MacCaulay is a lobbyist for NAMI-VA.)