Remembering Ben Westlund
“Ben was a treasure to his family and to Oregon. His personal warmth, intellect and sense of humor were infectious, as was his passion for making the world a better place for all. He was the heart behind much of the health reform work we are doing today. He was relentless in his pursuit of affordable and available health care for all Oregonians. As we carry that mantle forward, I will miss him as a partner in that work and as a friend.”
From Karen Whitaker Knapp, former executive director of the Office of Rural Health at OHSU:
"It was with deep sorrow that I read of Ben's passing. In my years of working with Oregon's Legislature, a few members stand out as being a genuine privilege to know and work with. Ben was certainly one of them. His enthusiasm was never tempered by experience and his compassion was not compromised by cynicism. He and I shared an affection for the old Brooklyn Dodgers and Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Wait Till Next Year. Ben had deep reserves of personal and professional courage and Oregon will surely miss him."
From Dr. Fred Matthies:
"Hearing Westlund and Bates at City Club in 2007 energized my work to promote change in medical education to correct the generalist/subspecialist imbalance that is costing so much in this country."
From Chris Flammang, Coos Bay, OR:
"I first heard former Senator & State Treasurer Westlund when he and Senator Bates made their presentation on health care reform here in Coos Bay. It was at that time that the two senators spoke openly of the very personal medical events leading to the first diagnosis of Ben Westlund's cancer. This was very impressive and moving, and I'm certain it was effective in generating the support for the ultimate legislation that brought about the Oregon Health Authority. Some months later, I was present when he and Senator Bates spoke to the Governor's Commission on Senior Services during a working lunch about the need for health care reform in Oregon. I am certain that legislation is one of his legacy gifts to the people of Oregon."
From David Rosenfeld, independent journalist, associate editor of The Lund Report:
"Ben was very encouraging of my work as a journalist for Oregon Health News. At a speaking event during one of our breakfast forums Ben told us, 'Keep doing what you're doing. Keep speaking truth to power.' He would often be one of the last to leave at many of our events as he'd stick around to help clean up tables. As a state senator, Ben always returned my calls though he barely knew me. During interviews he'd take thoughtful pauses and carefully choose his words as if crafting the perfect quote. And it always was."