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Austin Loses Another Strong Woman

Anne McAfee 'walked the talk until the end'
Amy Smith, 7:04pm, Sat. Jul. 13, 2013
photo by David Thomas Photography
Anne McAfee at the Capitol June 25

Updated Saturday, 6:56pm

Anne McAfee died this morning at her home, where she chose to spend her final hours with her husband Bill, her five children, and her many grandchildren of all ages.

McAfee, 82, died as a result of complications from a stroke she suffered at the Capitol June 25, where she had joined thousands of others in solidarity against one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country. The bill ultimately passed late Friday night.

Word spread quickly of McAfee's passing. In a statement, Congressman Lloyd Doggett said his friend of 40 years "was full of compassion, courage, and commitment, never giving up on building a more progressive Texas. If she could have chosen a moment to leave this world, it would have been as she was raising her voice for women's rights and social justice," he said. "Her values are reflected in her wonderful family – a sixty-plus-year marriage with active children and grandchildren, one of whom is a member of my Congressional team. In our sadness, there is so much to celebrate about her life and enduring values."

Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant posted this statement on his Facebook page: "She was an amazing woman who worked her entire life to help achieve a more just society. With Anne's passing we will all have to work a little harder. She would expect no less."

McAfee was a member and leader of many political and civic organizations over the years, including her beloved South Austin Democrats, which alerted its members by email earlier today: "I am sorry to advise Anne died this morning at 8:30, at home with her family. She was an amazing woman who walked the talk until the end. Anne will be missed."

Original post, Friday, 12:15pm

Women's rights and social justice activist Anne McAfee returned home from Brackenridge Hospital Thursday to be with her family as she neared the end of her journey.

McAfee suffered a stroke June 25 at the Capitol, the night of Sen. Wendy Davis’ successful filibuster of a bill restricting abortions.

After undergoing surgery for blod clotting, McAfee had been scheduled to transfer from Brackenridge to St. David’s on July 2 to begin rehabilitation. But she had a heart attack that morning, resulting in other complications.

On Tuesday, a CT scan revealed she had begun bleeding internally. The prognosis did not look good. Her family asked her what she wanted to do. “After she'd absorbed the fact that she was in a Catch-22 for which there was no medical solution, she finger-spelled ‘Home,’” her daughter, Susan Raybuck wrote in an email from her parents' home. “She wanted to be here on her sun porch again, not there in the hospital.” A breathing tube prevented her from speaking, Raybuck said, “but she knows the manual sign language alphabet that she’d taught us as kids.”

Family members said McAfee was happy to learn how things turned out at the Capitol as a result of the filibuster and the defeat of the abortion bill in the first special session. Today, however, the Senate will again begin debating the restrictive legislation, and GOP leaders have vowed to secure passage this time.

Raybuck, the eldest of the McAfee's five children, said the family has witnessed Anne McAfee’s courage and determination as she struggled to recover from her stroke and subsequent setback. It's hard to keep an activist down.

McAfee’s husband Bill, their five children, and most of their 12 grandchildren and great-grandchildren were at McAfee’s bedside once she returned home on Thursday under hospice care.

“We told her how thankful we were for her passionate love for this state and country and for her tireless work to make it a better place, for the legacy she gave us,” Raybuck said. "Yesterday she finger-spelled to each of us ‘I love you.’ Later she spelled out ‘How lucky I am.’”

Austin is lucky, too.

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