In Memoriam, Charles McPhee, April 24, 1962-May 8, 2011

Inspiration comes from unlikely places. Mine, for the past five years, has come from my cousin Charles who in June of 2006 learned he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gorgeous, funny, smart, kind, madly in love with his extraordinary wife Petra, and an ecstatic new father, he was also at the height of his career as The Dream Doctor. He was unlucky. He, however, never saw it that way. Relentlessly positive since birth, Charles approached the disease as an opportunity for exploration of the self and of the world from his new and rapidly altering perspective. His wife and elder daughter Celia joined him in this outlook and strategy. Aware of what he was facing, his choice of how to deal with it, how to be himself, was, for me, a wonder to behold, a source of inspiration as no other I have ever known. I will always be grateful to him for this, even if he perceived his gift as something entirely natural to the human spirit and therefore easy to give away.

From The New York Times

From The Los Angeles Times:

Charles’ article about living with his disease in the Princeton Alumni Magazine

“What Makes me Smile”: Martha McPhee writing about Charles:

Africa (for Barak Obama), A New Song From Charles:

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5 Replies to “In Memoriam, Charles McPhee, April 24, 1962-May 8, 2011”

  1. This is the most beautiful and inspiring piece you’ve written. Am printing it out to remind myself, and inspire, every day.
    I’m sorry for your loss Jenny.


  2. I think the Kennedys and Hemingways got all the limelight and you McPhee’s are the real accessible American treasures without the tax payer drama. What amazing depth and inclusive vulnerabilty. True love for fellow man, artist and humanity… All of you are full frontal exquisite. I adore your installments of insight and virtue.


  3. Amazing what Charles Mcphee will always hold in all your lives. This is “Always”. A word I share with only my most intimate friends and family. My Condolences on Charles passing.
    Warmest regards,
    Grant Crawford

  4. I met Charles in 1988 when he was living with “the band” and working at NIH. I would like to send you my recollections of him. He is quite possibly the reason why I am still alive today. Bless you and your family.

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