Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tragic Loss of Dr. Eugenia Calle

I've been up since the wee hours of the morning (not normal for me, especially on a Saturday), trying to figure out what to do with my grief and anger over the loss of a very special person. Jeanne Calle was my first supervisor (in a "real" job). She was my mentor. She was like a second mother to me when I was alone for the first time in a big city (Atlanta) with no friends or family. She hired me with no experience in the field of epidemiology. Allowed me to take courses at Emory during the day while working full time. She always encouraged me and believed in me. She was my thesis advisor. And, most importantly, my friend. I watched her fall in love with her late husband Rick Letz who died from lymphoma a couple of years ago.

I'm sad I did not keep in touch the last few years, especially as I had moved back to the Atlanta area. Ironically, I had just emailed her a few weeks ago about possible positions with the American Cancer Society (where she and I worked).

She had just retired two weeks ago (I later found out) and was tragically murdered in her condominium in downtown Atlanta. Her condo was for sale as she had found love again and was selling her home to move in with her fiance. A "buyer" came in to see the condo and killed her, stole her credit cards, cash and wedding band (from marriage to Rick).

I am soooooo angry and so sad. I want everyone to know how much I care for and love them. Even if you haven't heard from me in awhile, even if you think I don't, even if you read this and think, she is not talking about me (yes, you!). I may not have called, written or seen you. But, I think about you, I love you and you have made tremendous difference in my life. All of you who are my friends, now and past.

Jeanne was a real gift to this world. She was passionate about her work and her life. The world is a less good place without her in it.

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