It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I write to share the news that my close mentor in this work and dear friend to Upstream, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, passed away Wednesday at her home in North Carolina after a difficult, multi-year battle with cancer. I am heartbroken by her news, and am so sorry to share it with you today.
Ophelia, or Dr. G-B, as she was affectionately known throughout Upstream and North Carolina, wore many hats – a physician, a minister, a volunteer and a leader – and was deeply committed as a caregiver and advocate for the health and well-being of others. Dr. G-B was an Upstream Board member as well as a member of the Upstream North Carolina Advisory Committee.
My team in North Carolina will feel her loss acutely. So many of us benefited directly from her calm demeanor and unflagging ability to keep her trained eye on the big picture: our collective impact. She was our local oracle–the one we went to when we needed clarity, a sense of direction, or affirmation around our purpose.
Beyond North Carolina, those of you who had the privilege of interacting with Dr. G-B in other forums know that we could always count on her warm presence and energy to light the room –even a Zoom one!–and keep us pointed to our north star. It was just about a year ago, in fact, that she graciously hosted a Lunch and Learn with our staff and shared stories about her approach to her work and how deeply she believed in our mission.
Her loss will be acutely felt across the many circles where she shared her time and imparted her wisdom and counsel. Few people share their gifts in service of community the way that Ophelia has, and for that and so much more, her legacy will live on.
I know we will all keep Ophelia and her loved ones in our hearts and prayers.
“As a mother, grandmother, physician, minister, and an advocate for the health and well-being of the world, I can envision the benefits that will come from empowering the women of North Carolina to make safe and effective choices about their reproductive health. Together, we will have the opportunity to witness history first-hand; to see wheels of change, to enforce the freedom of choice, to witness each definition of success, to feel the energy of love and to show patients that caregivers truly do care.” Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (1943-2021)