By Marvin Ross
It was not unexpected but long time advocate and pioneer for families, June Conway-Beeby, left us this week at the age of 92.
If I am not mistaken, June was one of the founders of what was Friends of Schizophrenics in Ontario which then became the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. She was one of the first executive directors and despite having lost her son to the disease, she did not vary. According to her long time ally, Patricia Forsdyke from her presentation to the Ontario Legislation Committee:
“June Conway Beeby knows a lot about danger. Mathew, her young delusional son, drove two ordinary dinner knives through his eyes (and died as a result). June will tell you about danger. She is here today. When he was released from hospital she was told never to be alone with him when he was released from hospital because he was dangerous! Mathew was not taking his medication.”
June was 79 at the time and she showed up at the meeting. What I find remarkable is just how many mothers lose a child to schizophrenia but continue for years to advocate for improvements. I honestly do not know if I would.
When former SNL and SCTV star, Tony Rosato was in court in Kingston Ontario fighting his hospitalization for Capgras Syndrome, she was outside the court talking to the press about the failures of our system. She told the media that “there is no system in place that properly takes into account Rosato’s illness, diagnosed as Capgras syndrome” and “This poor soul needs treatment.”
She added that with treatment, people with the syndrome can get their lives back on track. Rosato has not had access to treatment, as he has been in jail two years awaiting a trial that finally began this week.
We all owe June a huge debt of gratitude and it is my wish that she never knew how her fought for organization has been corrupted into the Institute for Advances in Mental Health “designed to redesigning society for better mental health”.