Charlotte N. Shedd of Buffalo was an early pioneer of the hospice movement in the United States and co-founder of Hospice Buffalo, which has brought comfort and care to thousands of terminally ill patients and their families in this area.
She died Saturday, at 84, of end-stage Alzheimer's disease in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, which is part of her legacy to the Buffalo area.
The former Charlotte Newsom, an only child, was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Shreveport, La.
She graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana and earned her master's degree in nursing from Yale University, where she met her future husband, Dr. Donald P. Shedd, a head and neck surgeon.
Her passion for hospice care was inspired by hearing Cicely Saunders, the founder of Hospice of England, speak at Yale.
Mrs. Shedd moved to Buffalo with her husband when he accepted an appointment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
She began to work from her dining-room table to establish a hospice program in Western New York, recruiting like-minded community leaders and health-care professionals.
Starting out with few resources, she organized community meetings, training sessions for volunteers and, eventually, board meetings for Hospice Buffalo, which was established in 1978.
"Through this all, it was Charlotte who shored up and focused the effort of what we were doing," Dr. Robert A. Milch, medical director of Hospice Buffalo, recalled in an interview from the Early History of Hospice Buffalo. "Indefatigable, undefeatable, Charlotte was Joan at Orleans, Hector at the Bridge, Mother Teresa and Ma Barker all in one."
Mrs. Shedd was a co-founder of the New York State Hospice & Palliative Care Association and an early member of the governing board of directors of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.
She retired in 1989 after 11 years as executive director of Hospice Buffalo.
In 1992, she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Yale School of Nursing for her instrumental work on behalf of dying patients and their families.
"We are all so fortunate to have had such a selfless, dedicated person at the helm of the hospice movement," said William E. Finn, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care and the first administrative intern hired by Mrs. Shedd in 1984.
Last year, the Hospice Foundation established the "Charlotte and Dr. Donald Shedd Charity Care Endowment Fund" to support the care of hospice patients and their families who are underinsured or don't have insurance.
"Any time a person has been relieved of pain, consoled as they grieved, supported while a loved one dies, they can thank Charlotte Shedd," The Buffalo News wrote in an article last year.
An accomplished pianist, Mrs. Shedd was the choral director at Trinity Lutheran Church and played the organ and harpsichord.
In addition to her husband, survivors include three daughters, Carolyn, Ann and Laura; and a son, David.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. May 19 in Unitarian Universalist Church, 695 Elmwood Ave.