Wini, as she preferred to be called (“as Wini the Pooh”), passed peacefully in the early hours of November 20, 2020. She devoted her life to the art of nursing and taking care of others since she graduated from St Alexius in Bismarck, ND. At a very young age, she became a nursing supervisor at Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, CO. She moved to Houston, Texas, in 1966, working at The Methodist Hospital, Texas Medical Center, where she acquired a Cardiovascular Nursing certification, and was night supervisor at the Cardiovascular ICU playing a significant role in the acquisition of the first heart transplant performed in the USA. For her volunteer work, she received several recognitions and awards from the American Heart Association. In 1970, she became inaugural Instructor of the Methodist Neuronurse Course. She joined the department of neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, as a research nurse initially, contributing to the cerebral revascularization studies involving intracranial bypass surgery utilizing microscope techniques in 1972. Later, she joined the neurological clinical services working side-by-side with her colleague for the rest of her life, Dr. Victor M. Rivera, initially providing care in general and vascular neurology, later, concentrating in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) contributing and pioneering in research on early therapies, understanding of the mechanism of disease, and as coordinator of modern day clinical trials. She carried out all these responsibilities while providing long, extensive hours to direct patient care. Wini was one of the original members of the national MS Nurse Specialist Program, receiving the additional title of MS Certified Nurse. Wini literally took care of thousands of MS patients providing them not just with sophisticated state of the art management, but regaling them with her legendary warmth, compassion and patience. Wini was the MS nurse at the original Baylor/Methodist International MS Center in the 1980s, later becoming the first MS nurse at the Maxine Mesinger MS Comprehensive Care Center, inaugurated in 2003. For practically four decades, Wini contributed to the MS neurological education and training of nurses, medical students, innumerable residents, and more specially, and particularly closer to her heart, “adopting” and guiding the many international and MS Fellows whom she tacitly considered as her children and extended family. The International Organization of MS Nurses recognized her work as MS nurse pioneer even though she did not like recognitions.
Wini was amazingly able to keep her calm under the most trying circumstances and challenges she had to overcome during her life, like losing her beautiful grand home to hurricane Harvey in 2017, eventually rescued by an airboat along with her beloved little dog “Gizmo”.
With Wini’s departure, nevertheless, multitude of wonderful memories shall remain. She did not find us. We did. The torch of her strong spirit illuminated many of us during her beautiful and generous life path. That shall also remain.
While MS neurology and MS nursing lost a great example of “why and how to do it”, and MS patient care lost a devoted and unique advocate, we all lost one of the best examples of professionalism, dedication to a cause, a kind soul, an insuperable friend, and a beautiful human being. Rest in Peace.
Sue started her physical therapy practice as a solo practitioner in 1992. Since that time, her team has grown to include 24 employees at 5 Western New York locations. Her focus on comprehensive rehabilitation services for individuals with neurologic conditions made her and her practice a household name among patients and area neurologists. More specifically, she was a national pioneer in the field of rehabilitation for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis helping to advance the standard of care and improving the quality of life of thousands of patients. She served as member of the board of directors of the New York Physical Therapy Association and eventually as the organization’s President. She also served as President of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers which is the preeminent international professional organization for medical/rehab providers involved in the care of patients with MS. Here she led physicians, nurses, and other rehab professionals in advancing research, advocacy, and clinical practice for the MS community. In 2016 the CMSC awarded her with the Lifetime Achievement Award which recognizes an individual whose decades-long commitment has driven significant advances in the care of people with MS. She was the first rehabilitation professional to have received this award.
In addition to her clinical practice, Sue was a full-time faculty member within the University at Buffalo and D’Youville College Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. Throughout her career in education, she taught thousands of student physical therapists how to provide compassionate care that enhances the function of patients with neurologic and vestibular dysfunction. Her clinical touch and empathetic nature will live on for generations through the students that she has impacted. As part of her legacy, Sue has planned for her physical therapy practice to continue to provide exceptional care as her way of helping people long after she herself has stopped treating patients.
Donations to the foundation Sue set up to help cover costs for neurological patients in need:
Checks can be made out to “WNY Center for Neurological Wellness, Inc” and sent to Bennett Rehabilitation Institute; 2075 Sheridan Drive, Kenmore, NY 14223
Dr. Bennett Memorial Wristband Sale
Ms. Janet Marie Brown, MSN, FNP-BC, MSCN, age 54, of Murfreesboro, TN passed away Sunday, September 8, 2019. She was born in Cincinnati, OH to the late Jerome and Martha Herbold Brown. Ms. Brown’s calling was nursing. She became a travelling nurse all over the country and took care of Mrs. Walt Disney in the 1990’s. She graduated Austin Peay University in 1998 with her BSN. She returned to Nashville and put herself through nurse practitioner school while working full time and graduated Tennessee State University in 2001. Ms. Brown became the first Tennessee nurse to be multiple sclerosis certified in 2004. She began her practice at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic in 2011. Ms. Brown’s focused on treating patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was a faithful member of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
Ms. Brown is survived by her siblings, Robert Brown and his wife Mary of Newburgh, IN, Mike Brown and his wife Sharyl of Denver, CO, Don Brown and his wife Sharon of Raleigh, NC, Barbara Brown of Wenzhou, China, Diane Brown of St. Louis, MO, and Gerard Brown and his wife Pam of Holliston, MA; several nieces and nephews; and her dearly loved Tennessee family.