A tribute to Maggie…
THANK YOU DEAR MAGGIE!
O will we all miss Maggie Belton, a comrade, fellow advocate, friend and huggable grandmother! Last year as we both waited for our rides, I was shivering from the cold for I did not have a jacket on. Without batting an eyelash, she yanked her shawl from behind her and wrapped me in it!
Maggie was colorful, intense, and fashionable mind you! She could compete with any model with her hats, wigs, shawls, bracelets. She had a beautiful face with fine features and smiling, thoughtful eyes. She once was a tall, attractive nurse, and I even imagine that she was an enigma to the men who must have found her irresistible. That and extremely astute, vocal about her observations and even with just her musings. Maggie said what she meant and was unapologetic about it. She always wanted you to deal with her and her message fair and square, often in context of her history and personal experience. She was comical sometimes and shock you with rough humor, coupled with naughty giggling.
And seriously, she was the consummate disability and senior advocate making sure you had eye contact. In her public speeches, she often raised her arms like a concert conductor to make a major point. Her achievements line the paths her scooter travels, her contacts and admirers many, and detractors few.
When the County Board of Supervisors created the Personal Assistance Services Council in the mid-90s, we had the perfect board chair in Maggie Belton to chart the virgin territory. She held the position for at least four terms until finally PASC got itself on secure footing. After her successful tenure as Board chair, she was still itching to continue to advocate and got herself established as a commissioner with the Area Agency on Aging.
But the best part of Maggie was her warmth and fuzzies—she addressed her close friends with endearments. I and a few others were“Sweetheart”. She would scoot very close to plant a kiss on you or just a hug. At home, she always had a cat, whom she dotted on and pampered.
Maggie had profound wisdom for she lived modestly and she leaves behind only that which made possible, an extraordinary life! We love and miss you Maggie and deeply thank you for your contributions to the many causes that do affect our lives!
Lillibeth Navarro, PASC Commissioner & Former Chair
I always thought that Maggie would outlive us all and I will miss her! For the thirty years I’ve known Maggie (and I’m sure before that), she just kept showing up and advocating in all things senior, disability, IHSS, and so many other issues. She had a meter that detected discrimination and marginalization in policy and practice and she wasn’t shy about sharing her observations of any injustices that she detected. Maggie saw her role as providing a sense of history and bringing a larger perspective to discussions, conferences, workshops, or Board meetings. She loved that role and, while she loved it when people paid attention to her concerns, she didn’t hush when she was a lone voice on an issue. As a fellow advocate, I can say that Maggie wasn’t always easy. She was determined to bring her perspective forward and it was often hard to hear. Now that she’s gone, I know I’ll miss that.
Maggie watched my kids grow up and she loved hearing the meanderings of my family. She never missed a chance to ask me about the family, ask for the latest pictures of my grandkids, and thank me for the persimmons that I gave her. And, wow, she was always gorgeous and stylish in her hats and lovely colorful outfits! I will miss her sitting at the corner of the table at Board meetings in her lovely outfit and striking hat giving us her wisdom and alerting us to injustice.
Janet Heinritz-Canterbury, Chair, PASC Governing Board