Mary Labyak, HOSPICE has lost a Grand Dame and Pioneer…

Grand Dame
of the
Hospice World
died in her home 
under the care of
the hospice that she created
more than 30 years ago.
 ~Feb 4, 2011 ~
We Will Miss A Phenonemonal Woman
who began a journey
fueled with passion
the honest desire to make end of life
better for patients
those who love them.
The recipient of the esteemed
National Heart of Hospice Award,
the leader of more than I can count
a woman I admire and love…
thank you Mary, for all the years and that laugh.
video by
Thank you
for shaping the care
the world of
your lifes work through the years.
video by
YOU will be missed terribly
Hospice now must find its way
without you and your guidance
were a beacon that shined brightly
in this life
I have no doubt
that you will continue to shine now
on the other side.
Mary, Taft and I
Mary once a little girl from a small town
grew into a Grand Dame of HOSPICE;
one respected around the world,
Licensed Social Worker,
a woman of boundless energy
passion beyond words,
she earned the rights as
“walked the walk and talked the talk”
like few we will ever meet in today’s world,
She was a force to be reckoned with,
one who was no stranger to
Capital Hill as she advocated for
patients and families
in the provision of
Hospice Care for Americans
those around the globe.
She was a “fierce” and strong voice
in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
the National Hospice Foundation.
She traveled the world speaking to thousands and thousands
along the way
and set standards for hospice care and access to services across the world since 1977.
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I could sit and listen to Mary talk for hours
she knew how to talk!
She had me at “hello” a hundred or so years ago when we first met, and first hugged;
and I always would laugh and tell her I had her name and a white rose tattooed over my heart!
She would laugh that most wonderful and deep laugh at that thought!
She was a brilliant woman, a beautiful woman,
a woman who received awards, praise,
even judgment along the way
and made a lasting impact on many along her journey.
She started out this thing known as hospice, in a garage, with a few folks and worked one end of Pinellas County *the largest county in Florida* to the other; and  that little garage with a paper sack of papers just grew and grew
to become
the worlds largest hospice in the world! One that others stood,  and admired,
heaven help them now that she is gone!
The end of an era
a woman who
stood for and advocated for
patients and those who loved them and the communites that they called home.
She leaves behind many who
will grieve her
many who will be better for knowing her
many who will
need time to adjust their lens of viewing
the world of
hospice and life itself
She has been an inspiration to many, has angered others, and won the hearts of still others who would do just about anything for her.
She often would tell folks she sees things in
circles, *nothing linear about Mary*,
and circles will miss her terribly
now that she has
gone on to dance in the
Universal Circle of the Great Creator.
She always wanted all to remember
to put families and patients in
the center of the circle
and the first thing she would ask about just about anything is, “how will this help or benefit the patient and/or the family”!
as we try to wrap our head around a world
that circles without Mary as the one
who stirs the very circle of hospice care, it’s going to take some time,
she is a legend in her time.
We will continue to know
her landmark beginnings
and I hope folks
will continue to remind others of her impact
have grown and continue to grow
as we know
we must educate
work to get into more and more lives
If we establish relationships when folks are ill, whether or not they find cures,
we will have already established relationships,
we will allow them to know
we are there
should a crisis occur
should the need arise,
they will know
we are here
we can be trusted.
Mary most recently in the last year or two
learned first hand
the world of illness
She fought a hard battle against Cancer and her life was changed by all that involved
it was through the stories of others
that she got a first hand experience
along her journey.
She says she learned a lot on suffering
things she didn’t understand personally;
things like
“they about have to kill ya to cure ya, as I have never been sick a day in my life, but the treatment about killed me.”
Her lessons while sitting in the chemo rooms
were vast
and intense.
She believed that we cannot be satisfied to care as hospice only at the end of lives,
we have a responsibility to find a way to get involved much earlier
in the course of people’s illness to not only help with physical illness and suffering
to find ways to live their lives better.
“And if they happen to come to hospice for end of life care later; then they will already be our friends”. Mary Labyak
Here’s a rose
I know she saw it,
just as I had a vision about her death at some odd hours of the mornin yesterday…
I spent the day unsettled and in my heart
I knew
Mary said when accepting her award
last year,
that she didn’t have any unfinished business for herself. Her’s had been a journey that she had lived fully.
I pray that true for her,
I pray her death was easy, peaceful, calm, painless
and that she danced into the
next place with her style and grace;
that she was with her beloved Taft.
I will hold her in my heart always
I do believe she was
a beautiful woman
who truly lived a life
that was awe-inspiring.
OH that voice; how I loved Mary’s voice,
she just had one of those
“I could sit and listen all day long” kind of voices!

When Mary walked into a room back in the day of Hospice conferences across the country,;
the room would hush,
folks would part
between her and
Dr Bernice Catherine Harper
it was like Moses parting the red seas
when those two entered a room!
Oh how we will miss her.

Those were some
“grand days of hospice”
Hospice is a better place
Mary Labyak
was a pioneer
who set a standard
walked the walk
back in the day
right up
until the day
she died.
Thank you dear Mary
for our times together
I do believe
had some good times
Every Day Is A Gift
Dance on in the galaxies Mary
it is YOUR time now
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Walk In Beauty
a grateful hospice friend
Healing Heartaches,
Stories of Loss and Life
Prayers goin up today
for all in the
Prayer Bowl
YOU know who you are

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  36. Hello friends,I have decided to leave this post in HONOR of Mary for a few days, Remembering a hospice pioneer…“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-RossBlessings to all who gather here.FondlyDr SES

  37. I did not get here over the weekend as I was so busy but I wanted to tell you Dr. Sherry how sorry I am for your loss of your friend Mary. Your words were a beautiful story and tribute to the life she led. She sounds like a beautiful soul inside and out and shined like the stars. I will hold you, her family and friends in my prayers over the days ahead. I love the name Mary, It was my dear Mother's name. Take care of you Dr. Sherry and know that so many love you and hold you up in prayers this day. Fluff/Sandy♥

  38. helloooooo.Hand me the generic kleenex please,I am saddened at your words today, you friend and co worker Mary sure sounds as if her life was lived to the fullest of full. What a great tribute here and one apparently so well deserved.There are no words in times of sadness, comfort lies within each of us…in memories, prayers and love..Mary certainly contributed far more than her fair share to this world..may the "next place" reward her lovefilled efforts with eternal peace and kindness.I am sorry for your loss Doc…hoping the best in life to all today, hugs in the wind..hugging my angels ♥ ♥ sign me, A.

    • Mary led and began a little concept; with vision of an Eagle… may she now dance in the galaxies… It was an honor to know her, and to listen to her when she spoke and be filled with her laugher and her magic when she walked the walk and talked the talk… Hugs always on the winds to you and those angels.

  39. Such wonderful words about Mary L. RIP and thank you for everything you created, set in place and allowed me to send my 3 dear ones off to heaven with Pinellas County Hospice. This Sunday, your name is at the TOP of Dr. SES's prayer list. DYS I love you. FIRM

    • Blessings to you Irene, and yes, we have lost a grand dame of the hospice world… I’m glad that hospice could be all that you needed when you needed it most. DYS indeed!

  40. A beautiful tribute to a woman and friend. thank you for sharing with us your thoughts, memories and relationship. I was very touched by your words. You are a gracious inspiration Dr SES. As you have taught so many, so much about grief, loss and life, take care of you as you walk through this personal loss. Much love.

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