Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

In Memory of Mary McTernan, Past President of VOR

We celebrate the life of Mary McTernan, and mourn her passing. Mary was a long-time member and past President of VOR (2004-2009). She was the mother of a child with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Mary Elizabeth McTernan. 

MM w MEM.jpg  Mary McTernan, in her youth, with her daughter Mary Elizabeth McTernan

Mary McTernan was a passionate advocate for people with I/DD. Before coming to VOR she worked for COFAR in her home state of Massachusetts.

Mary helped to write the legislative language in VOR's "Barney Frank Bill" that we advocated for in the 110th, 111th, and 112th sessions of Congress. The bill was more recently referred to as the "Goodlatte Bill", when Mr. Goodlatte, a cosponsor of the original bill, re-introduced it in the 115th Congress, This bill would have given families and guardians of residents of ICFs the right to opt out of federally funded class action lawsuits seeking to close the residents' longtime homes. We hope to find new sponsors in the 116th Congress to continue Mary's legacy.
Mary with Debbie.jpg  Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schulz with Mary McTernan at VOR's 2010 Legislative Initiative

Mary McTernan was also deeply involved, along with attorney William Burke and others, in the writing of VOR's Amicus Brief that was included in the majority opinion in the landmark Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999). The VOR brief was quoted in the brief, including the language, "each disabled person is entitled to treatment in the most integrated setting possible for that person—recognizing that, on a case-by-case basis, that setting may be in an institution.”

Tamie Hopp, VOR's former Director of Government Relations & Advocacy, worked with Mary during her years at VOR and through her tenure as president. She wrote,

" Mary was a mentor, friend and, with quiet strength, an activist to be reckoned with. I worked for Mary for her many years on the VOR Board of Directors, and directly for her when she served four terms as the organization's president. In these years, I grew in my knowledge of legislative advocacy and learned, especially, patience.

Mary was methodical and cautious. She cherished long-held relationships and leveraged them strategically. Through her work as an advocate and teacher at the local, state and federal levels, she changed lives, directly through her compassion and broadly through policy, legislative, and political advances. Mary is the very definition of legacy. She will be dearly missed."

Mary McTernan began her advocacy work with COFAR. She worked on the Massachusetts' Governors' Commission on Mental Retardation and fought to protect the rights of residents of developmental centers in the Ricci v. Okin class-action lawsuit in 1993.

For those wishing to make a memorial donation who knew Mary through her work with VOR, Please mail it to:
836 South Arlington Heights Rd. #351;
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

To send a memorial donation via VOR's secure online donation form, Please Click Here

For those wishing to make a memorial donation who knew Mary for her work with COFAR, please send it to:
c/o Colleen Lutkevich
3 Hodges Street
Mansfield, MA 02048
Condolence cards can be sent to Mary's sister, Irene, at:
Irene Welch
6667 SE Yorktown Drive
Hobe Sound, FL 33455.