In Memoriam

Caitlin Wright Binning

June 29, 1966 - July 25, 2003

Dear Tim, 

I am sorry to have taken so long to write. I've been pondering what to say, and along comes this e-mail from someone I don't know who really pays eloquent tribute to Caitlin. I want to share it with you. For myself, I always will love Caitlin for her devotion to human truth. Not just Truth in the grandiose and abstract, but the truth of people's lives. Certainly, from a newspaper reporter's perspective, Caitlin was a mother lode of truth because she always was able to back up what she said with people and their families who could prove it. She was a bureaucrat's worst nightmare because she cut through the gauzy haze of untruth like a knife. But Caitlin also was true to people, which is why I think she forged such strong relationships with the people she helped and the people with whom she worked in one way or another. She was merciless on those she considered adversaries of justice and human care, but she also was incredibly warm and fun and irreverent and beautifully open. Her truth was always richly human, as funky as we all know that can be. What a loss. Please take care, Tim. I do not know if I will be able to attend the service or not. I have some complications, but I will try. Regardless, please know that I honor Caitlin's memory and grieve with you in your loss. Best to you, 


Maureen -

We all enter this world hoping ... that when our work is done, we've left it a better place. Caitlin's advent to the earth was a blessing for all of those fortunate enough to have known her and loved her, even those of us who have loved her through you. Your loss is shared by all. Every mother shares your pain. Allow each of us to be here for you, and gently love you through this most difficult time in you life.

Dear Maureen, 

You would be Caitlin's mother. I am Bill Miller, and I live with my wife Julia and daughter Allison. I work for the post office in Lynchburg. I served on an advisory council to the Department of Rights for Virginian's with Disabilities (DRVD) from 1996-2000. Caitlin joined the group towards the end of my service, and we became very good friends. Caitlin was such a lovely person. I had not seen Caitlin since before she was married to Tim, but we communicated occasionally by email. Caitlin told me when she was first diagnosed with cancer. I was aware of the chemotherapy and radiation, and then her surgery and physical therapy. The last I heard, she was doing well. Then I was distracted by my surgery. I had quintuple bypass surgery in December. In June, Caitlin notified me that she was still battling cancer, and she was "slowing down". Then I found her web site and sensed it was a memorial of sorts. I became afraid that I would never see or hear from her again. I called a friend of my wife's, who happens to live up the street from Tim and Caitlin. I asked if she would go down and inquire of Caitlin on my behalf. Susan did this, and repotted that Tim came to the door and was very kind. My wife's friend did not sense that Caitlin was gravely ill at the time. Tim has since emailed me to tell me that he informed Caitlin that I was asking about her. Tim stated that she spoke kindly of me and seemed happy to know I was asking about her. This information means a lot to me. I plan to attend the services on Saturday Aug 2nd. I have visited Brian Larkin's internet site as well as the family history on Caitlin's web page. You have a very interesting family. I hope to have the opportunity to meet you and share more memories of your wonderful daughter. She did tell me how much she enjoyed working with you in her yard and flower gardens. Sincerely, 

Bill Miller

Dear Maureen, 

It's Caitlin's friend Lori Berkey here, just wanting to send you my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your dear daughter Caitlin. The love and support you gave her surely gave comfort to her struggle. My life will forever be touched by the privilege of knowing her and being her friend. Her goodness will live on endlessly in ways that can't be counted...from people with mental illness whose lives are better because of her friends, family and others inspired by her strength and courage and ever present good humor. My thoughts are with you during your time of sorrow. May you be comforted by fond memories and the knowledge that she lives on in all of all our hearts. Wishing you peace, 


Dear Auntie M;

I've been truly worried about you. Not worried, more sad. I shared this with my sister, and I left what she wrote below. But she suggested that I "allow myself some joy".

I rarely do nice things for myself. It simply feels "selfish". Yes, I know that is retarded. But anyway, doing something "nice" and then dedicating that to someone makes sense.

I'm going to a marketing event in the Catskills on Friday. There is a business that is researching how to advertise and I was invited. In exchange for my time, they will give me plane tickets to anywhere I want to go in the world.

As you know, I have little interest in travel, but it just seems like a "gift". So, that is how I'm taking it. I'm taking my sister with me, and we're going to go to some wonderful place. I'll have a wonderful time, and I'll dedicate the trip to Caitlin.

Since she really enjoyed travel I figure this is the right way to celebrate her life. I'm sure she'd be very happy that I spread my wings and experience joy because she inspired me to do so. Much love, 



Thank you for passing along the sad news. Caitlin was so special to me, and I'm so sorry that we've lost her. One of our special bonds was that we both grew up with strong, independent moms who taught us a lot about self-reliance. Thank you for all you did to make her the extraordinary woman she was. Hope to see you. Saturday. love,


Dear Maureen,

 I came into the office this AM and saw this, and had already seen it in the paper. Words cannot express my sorrow about this, but I am relieved that Caitlin is no longer suffering in this world. I am glad that Gretchen is a comfort to you. With my deepest sympathy,

Shelly Klinger


I am so sorry to hear about our loss-------we had such wonderful times working together. Her smile and antics could Light up a room. You have no idea how many people she will be missed by--we all loved her so much. Your loss is immeasurable. If there is anything I can do to help just please let me know. I know that her pain is finally gone! 

Sharon Mason


Thank you. I had not seen Caitlin for a few years. There was a time that she was extraordinarily important to me and stayed that way in my heart even when we went stretches without contact. I will miss her. The world was a safer and more loving place with her in it. With love and thoughts for all of you. 

Sarah Paige

Dear Mrs. Wright, 

Thank you so much for sending this out. We at hospice felt blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know Caitlin, if only for a short time. She was clearly much loved. Blessings to you. 

Carol Miller, Social Worker,
Community Hospice of Virginia

Dear Maureen

I am sending this e-mail to you from somewhere in Tennessee - Winchester, to be exact, although I can't even tell you where that is. I have been out of Richmond for almost two weeks, and am visiting with a friend on the return trip home. She happens to have aol, and I have not had an opportunity to check my e-mail until now.

My thoughts are with you at this time of your daughter's transition, but as I've tuned in to the energy, I feel relief and peace with her. She is fine - and I deeply appreciate being informed. I'm glad that you have found peace and comfort with your friends at the Alchemists, and I am honored to be one of them.

I will be home sometime Thurs., most likely. If you'd like to talk - either in person or on the phone - please let me know. I would be honored to do that with you. In Love and Light, 


Aunt Betty and Uncle Brian,

I am so sorry to hear about Caitlin's passing. I know you were all very close to her and that she was a strong women right up until the end. Please know that we are thinking of you and are so very sorry for your loss.

JVPB (Jill)


I was extremely saddened when I heard the news of Caitlin's death. I know she was special to you and Betty and I am grateful that I was able to meet her last summer. Please extend my feelings to her mother. Love, 


Dear Betty and Brian

When young people go it seems so wrong. When an old fogy stops it should not cause a tear, but I know how close you were to Caitlin and how hard it was lose her. My thoughts are with you.

[John Richard VanderPutten  is Aunt Elizabeth's 92-year-old father.]

Dear Uncle Brian and Aunt Betty, 

We are all sorry for your loss. It is always hard when you lose a loved one, but losing someone whom you had raised and had to watch suffer is almost cruel. We hope she has passed over to a better place and time, a place without pain. All our love, 

Basil, Dawn , Jonathan and Aurora.

Our deepest sympathies to your family. 

Laurie Loken

Dear Brian and Betty:

Pat and I send our heartfelt condolences for your terrible loss. We will remember Caitlin and you in our prayers.

Pat & John VanderPutten

Dear Betty and Brian

I am so sorry! you are all in our prayers. love 

Pat Moore

Dear Maureen 

Your news was not unexpected but it still causes the grief we all feel when someone so close is taken from us. I think that most families experience episodes of tragedy in their lifetime and my own family had it repeated during the 2nd. war I would think that from the beginning this would be the eventual result but one is always hopeful that a miracle will happen and I was quite amazed how anyone had the spirit and resilience to stand the treatment which Caitlin had. It was a great pity that it was not more beneficially rewarded. Few people would have lasted the course but even with the short period of our acquaintance it was obvious that in Caitlin we were dealing with someone with a mental and physical make-up given to few people. ..I hope that in the end it came with little pain and discomfort. Marie and I can only express our sincere sympathy to yourself to Tim and the rest of the family

James and Marie and Therese

To Caitlin's Family

I am truly blessed to have known such a wonderful human being.

Regin Smith


I was so sorry to hear of your niece's death. She obviously eant a great deal to you. Yu and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.



I was devastated to hear the news. Will write to Brian. So glad to have seen your pictures of her and to have heard of her bravery.


Dear Elizabeth

This is just so sad. You and your family are in my prayers.



It is so so sad. One digs deep to know how to deal with such loss beyond mere remembering.



My deepest and most sincere sympathies. Love and support,

Jan D.

Dear Elizabeth,

It is a really tough thing to deal with. My deepest sympathy.

Mary, Sarita, Walter, Demonica


My deepest Sympathy



I know that it is always tough, whatever the circumstances. Much sympathy and support.



I know that it is difficult for you and your family. You can be assured that we are all grieving with you and your family.



My prayers (as always!)



My sympathy to you. It is always so hard.



You are in my prayers.

Bernice, John Chernashevsky, Bonita Washington, Jaime Malwitz

Elizabeth and Brian

A Mass has been said for Caitlin Wright Binning. Love

Dick and Peg

Aunt Betty and Uncle Brian

A Mass has been said for Caitlin Wright Binning. Love,

Rich and Meg


I share your loss. God doesn't let any of his bright lights stay ablaze too long. We should have known anyone that good was too good to be true. 

Fred Kaufman


I am very sad to learn that such a wonderful person has died. You never know who is out there standing up for our rights, teaching us to deal with things etc. And to think that the Daily Planet was not wanted in neighbors in my city Richmond, Va, with fine workers like Caitlin. Val keep up the good work. I know that it will be hard to replace such a wonderful woman. 

d t


I hadn't seen the paper and learn of this tragedy until now. Thanks for letting me know. I'll be in mourning of our collective loss for quite a while. 



The most fearless, courageous, funny and wonderful advocate has died. Please see Val Marsh's remembrance of Caitlin. She went into the very darkest places and forced the windows open. The stories that rocked Virginia on abuses in hospitals (and CSB's) were unearthed by Val Marsh and Caitlin. Many of the changes that happened were due to Caitlin. She was one of us. 

Ray Bridge

Oh, Val

I am so sorry. This came as a complete shock to me. Caitlin did so much in her short life, and it is a tragedy to lose her. All my sympathy. 

Pat Passalacqua


I just heard about Caitlin about an hour ago.... The world has lost an incredible advocate and an awesome woman. I hope she knew that the world is a better place because of her zealous advocacy and compassion. 


I just heard about Caitlin, and I wanted to offer my condolences. I know that you two were close and that Caitlin was a wonderfully strong and valuable advocate for the many people she served and/or worked with over the years. My thoughts are with you as her friend and colleague and of course with her husband and family.


May I and my staff of Families 1st of VA, and Christian Nannies offer each of you our sincerest condolences in the passing of Caitlin. Whenever a group loses a member the loss is great. However when you lose a member who has been such a vital part of your progress, it is far more hard to deal with. May the our Lord .. be with you in your time of loss, and comfort you, and give you not only the strength, but also the determination to carry on in the pathway laid before you.

Having worked with you and Caitlin, I became fully aware about what an awesome pair you two were. I pray that the memories which you hold will not make you sad, but will inspire you to continue the awesome fight which you have put forth for so many of those who would have no voice - except through you and Caitlin. MY prayers and my staff's are with you and your staff as you grieve and then move forward in carrying out your work In peace.

Carolann Pacer-Ramsey 
Executive Director Families 1st of VA Christian Nannies & Companions & Staff

Dear Folks:

I apologize for waiting so long to express my feelings about the loss of Caitlin, perhaps because I still can't believe she is gone at such a tender age. Her spirit and her devotion to the vulnerable among us still live in and inspire me, as they have since I first wrote about Gloria Huntley in January 1997.

When it came to ferreting out the truth in state hospitals Caitlin was the pit bull and the mental health system the poodle. It was an uneven match from the start.

Countless thousands continue to benefit from her tireless work. Such is a legacy few can claim.

Bill Baskervill
Mr. Baskervill is an Associated Press writer who helped Caitlin in getting state and national visibility for her cause.

We grieve with you Val. Thanks to your guidance. Caitlin and I corresponded several times and I don't think I offended her. I expressed admiration for her courage and how she used her impending death to guide her life in the last days. I have tried to learn from her example and keep my mortality fresh in my mind. Whether we have moments, months, or years left, we need to order our daily lives like there is no tomorrow. Caitlin did that very well. My prayers are with you, because I know how much she meant to you. 



This is the most beautiful, heartwarming tribute I have ever seen. Even though I did not know Caitlin, I am greatly saddened with her passing. I hope and pray her work will inspire all of us to continue, each in our own way, what she began. With heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation for your sharing with us. 

Nancy Gum


I appreciate your tribute so much, and I am sorry for your personal loss of such a dear friend and comrade. You may know that Caitlin worked for me at d19 csb. She was always passionate and outspoken, and sometimes caused administrators some anguish by her radical approach to advocacy....wanting to picket outside the nastiest of our Adult Care Residences, rather than take the slow political route of talking with them about violations and addressing unmet concerns through DSS licensing body. I always admired her so much and saw how she grew into such a competent leader in our field. You and Caitlin have made the world a lot better place for our clients and family members. Thanks so much for all you do. God bless you and your staff as you heal.

 Renae Sands

Dear Val, 

Your tribute to Caitlin deeply touched my heart. Thank you for sharing with us your memory of her. I grieve for you in your lost of your sister. You and Caitlin were truly joined at the head and heart as together you tenaciously fought for our loved ones. 

June Poe 
on behalf of NAMI Roanoke Valley

Thank you for writing such a beautiful message about Caitlin. It started the tears all over this morning, as it reminded me again of what a wonderful, unique person she was and how I will miss her presence. I have been thinking of you, as well, and hope that you are finding peace in your loss. I will see you Saturday. 


To: VAMI and Caitlin's Family: 

My sincerest condolences, and condolences from all those who knew her at RBHA, to Caitlin's family and to VAMI. Caitlin was a special person with a passion for what was right and a determination to help those most vulnerable in our society. Her innumerable contributions have had a tremendous beneficial impact on the responsibility of the state of Virginia to both understand and meet the needs of the mentally ill. She will be greatly missed, but her spirit and work will carry on. With Sincerity,

Steve Ashby
Executive Director 
Richmond Behavioral Health Authority

The Passing of Caitlin Wright Binning Caitlin was one off the most amazing individuals I have very met. She really was my hero and someone that you could always count on for help in any situation. Had it not been for Caitlin, I don't know what I would have done when my family was stricken with mental illness. Caitlin was my guiding light through the maze and darkness. After helping me, she became my friend. Many of the improvements in the Virginia Mental Health System over the last 7 years can be attributed directly to her passion for helping people. Caitlin taught me to look past the illness and see the person. That made all the difference in the world. When I think of Caitlin, an Emerson quote comes to mind, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." I shall miss her terribly, 

Bob Williams

Dear Val Marsh, 

I met you only briefly in Charlottesville when you came to speak to our NAMI group, and am grateful for being able to put a face on your beautiful tribute to your dear friend Caitlin Wright-Binning. To have had such a friend must be some consolation for your grievous loss. I am so sorry, for you, for her family, and for this broken world. Sincerely, 

Virginia Germino

Phil Floyd here. I must say that I can barely find the words to express my extreme sadness. During my days as President of Virginia-IAPSRS I got to know Caitlin through our work on the Mental Health Council of the VACSB and cherished the friendship that developed. Thanks for sending this out. Most sincerely,


I am so terribly sorry to hear about Caitlin's death. You have done her justice in your eulogy. Even those who didn't know her will know why she was such a special person, and will remain so in many, many hearts in Virginia for years to come. My prayers are with you, Tim and Caitlin's family. 

Leslie Herdegen

Dear Val: 

I was astonished and incredibly saddened to hear of Caitlin's death. She was so young and just embarking on so many new adventures in a life already rich with experience, relationships, and gifts to thousands of Virginians. I was so pleased to work closely with her during my short tenure on the Board of NAMI-Virginia and as Chair of the Program Committee. She was on top of the major issues and a great team player when we were dealing with difficult issues. She will be greatly missed by many, many folks. Please accept my condolences to you, Tim, and Caitlin's family for your loss and let me know if there is any way I may help. 


Dear Val: 

I am truly sorry to hear of the death of Caitlin, down right saddened. I held her in high regard and thoroughly enjoyed her dry sense of humor. Her commitment was beyond admirable. 

Richard E. Kellogg 
Special Assistant/F&A 
(Note: Richard Kellogg was the commissioner for DMHMRSAS under the Gilmore Administration)


Thank you for sending me the e-mail concerning Caitlin's passing away. Needless to say I was deeply saddened to learn of her death, she will be deeply missed. As you know, Caitlin stood between my son Chris (a consumer) and total disaster on many, many occasions. She did everything for him from securing a proper treatment plan through consultation, to brute force if needed, with his doctors and staff at Western State and halfway houses, placing him in assisted living quarters that would best meet his needs, locating and recovering him from multiple states when he ran away and, providing me with aid and comfort when I thought I would lose my mind with worry. God, how I will miss her. Caitlin was the Joan of Arch of the mentally ill. As to her very early departure from all of us, I think God most likely promoted her. He knows a fearless fighter when he sees one. My love, thoughts and prayers to Caitlin, her family, fellow warriors at NAMI-Virginia and to you Val. Caitlin's spirit, in all its manifestations, will live on in all of us. 

For Caitlin:

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And the sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity,
 It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Dave O'Neill


I was shocked and deeply saddened to get the news upon my return from the beach. I am especially sorry for your personal loss, and of course, the loss to the advocacy community. As you know, Caitlin was a joy and inspiration in my own teaching and community work and I will miss her dearly. 

(Note: Dr. Kia Bentley is a professor at the VCU School or Social Work who worked closely with Caitlin on a number of projects, and who clearly admired her.)


I was touched by your beautiful remembrance of your friend. She was oh too young! I just remember her name when I had called several years earlier, but your sharing made her a permanent marker in my mind. I do wish we could clone people like you and Caitlin. Thanks for all you do as well. 

Brenda Hayes


I was out of town and just now received this message. I am in shock for both deaths: Dick's (I was not aware he had died this past January) and Caitlin's. They were magnificent people and it is just incredibly difficult to cope with the idea that they are no longer around to enlighten us. Big hug for you, my friend, 

Sonia Jurich

Val & Staff, 

I am very sad to learn of Caitlin's death. She was a true advocate and a person dedicated to social justice. She accomplished so much in her short life. My thoughts and sympathy are with you and her family. 

Tommie Cubine (Note: Tommie Cubine served on the board of directors of NAMI-VA for many years. Caitlin worked with her extensively, especially on family education programming.)


I'm stunned. My god, I'm so sorry to hear this. And if I'm feeling this way, I can only imagine what you [and her family] are going through. What a loss, in every sense of the word. I still can't comprehend it somehow. My thoughts are with you and others who knew Caitlin better than I did. It sounds so stupid, but I don't know what else to say or think.

Ann MacDonald 
Wakefield, RI

Dear Val, 

I was shocked and very upset when I picked up the newspaper Tuesday morning to read "Binning, advocate for mentally ill in Virginia dies." I knew Caitlin had been ill, but somehow I thought with her youth and tenacity she would overcome e her illness. I held Caitlin in the highest regard. She was very bright, understood. the mental health system and the political system. And that made her highly effective in her advocacy role...She was a great resource to me and vet responsive, I always knew where I stood with Caitlin. I liked how inpatient and irreverent she was... that vas part of what made her so genuine. I know that Caitlin was an important part of the NAMI-VA family and I am certain she very important to you personally. I want to let you know how terribly sorry I am about her loss. My thoughts are with you and your staff. 

James E. Forrester, Ed.D. 
Clinical Director


Catlin certainly affected my life. The Nami Va Consumer counsel and Catlin gave me the lift that sustained me to do the recovery work I continue to do with my peers in the State of VA and elsewhere. A true hero is the person who works tirelessly for others with no expectation of reward.

Yvonne Smith


Caitlin helped so many people.  She fulfilled her mission in life and has now gone on to another plane to continue her work. When she became ill and after the surgery, she worked very hard in OT/PT.  In fact, she finished before her deadline because of her resolve.  We should follow her example of striving hard to do your best because thatís how she lived her life. She is now out of pain and is in a better place.  She will be greeted by loved ones waiting for her. These are the words you used to comfort me and I appreciate it.  As I promised they are coming back to you. Love,

Martha is a nurse with whom I worked for several years, and as soon as I mentioned her distress to Caitlin, Caitlin was right there helping her. That was perhaps 10 or more years ago and I don't think they ever met. Martha is now retired. She and her husband drove up to the Memorial Service.


My thoughts and prayers are with you. I had the joy of working with Caitlin for several years as the Mental Health Director of the Community Services Board in Chesapeake and Norfolk. She taught me much, and made this world a much better place for all. She will be missed. God bless you.

Martin Phillips

Dearest Maureen

My deepest condolences go out to you and all of Caitlin's family.

I know that any words are a poor comfort but please know that my heart goes out to you and I wish I was there to hold you and help to ease the pain for a moment. Yours is the heaviest burden to bear, the loss of your child and you will always have that with you. Time will lessen the pain, although that might seen unlikely at the moment. Caitlin will hold her hand over you and will want you to take good care of yourself - we are so many who need you.....I love you

Caitlin was obviously a very very special person, one who will be missed by her family, her co-workers, community and the community at large - she was an Angel on earth.

You will be in my thoughts on the 2nd of August (my 50th birthday) and I will pray that you get the strength to come though that day.

As is your wishes I will honour Caitlin by sending a donation to NAMI-VA.

I will be in Ireland from the 31st July until the 21st August.

Dearest Maureen may God be with you in this your darkest hour. All my love,

Fiola X