Very Sad News

David Romprey has died at the age of 42. First the article from the Salem Statesman Journal:

August 1, 2008

Mental-health activist dies at 42

Medical issue kills David Romprey before car crash

By Ruth Liao
Statesman Journal

Longtime Salem activist David Romprey, who is remembered as an outspoken crusader for Oregon’s mental-health system, has died, officials said.

Romprey was about to begin Monday as a coordinator of the Oregon Peer Bridgers Project with the Oregon State Hospital, spokeswoman Patricia Feeny said.

Romprey died Wednesday night in Salem as he was pulling out of a driveway near 12th and Chemeketa streets NE, Salem Police Lt. Mark Keagle said.

It happened about 6 p.m. when the vehicle crashed into a pole, police said. Police determined that Romprey died of a medical condition before the crash.

Romprey was 42. He is survived by two children, Max and Emily.

Romprey, who spent two years as an Oregon State Hospital patient until he was released in 1991, was a critic of the state’s 125-year-old Salem facility and fought to diminish stigmas attached to mental illnesses.

In 2005, Romprey was honored with the Mental Health Award for Excellence by the Oregon Department of Human Services, Feeny said.

Romprey was integral in helping to create the Oregon Peer Bridgers Project, a new program that would help released patients’ transition into the community, said Roy Orr, superintendent of Oregon State Hospital.

The program will help create individualized plans for patients who are either selected or who volunteer to join. On average, about 50 to 60 patients are discharged monthly from the state hospital campuses in Portland and Salem, Orr said.

The program also would track the patients’ progress and adjustment back into the community, Orr said.

“It’s just stunning to think, we’re now without David and the world’s a little poorer as a result,” Orr said.

Friend Mike Hlebechuk, a residential services coordinator for the state, said Romprey’s greatest gift was his command of the English language — in speech or writing.

Romprey once evoked Moses’ cry “Let my people go” in talking to representatives from the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Hlebechuk said.

Friend David W. Oaks, the director of MindFreedom International, called Romprey a “dynamic hero” for the mental-health advocacy movement in Oregon.

Oaks described Romprey’s efforts as a “community organizer,” who would travel to Eastern Oregon to help set up mental-health consumer support groups and networks.

“David had overwhelming passion for the most marginalized and powerless people in the mental-health system,” Oaks said.

Romprey was a longtime member of a statewide mental-health advisory council, said Madeline Olson, a deputy assistant director of the Addiction and Mental-Health Division.

Romprey also advocated wellness for everyone, not just those with mental illnesses.

“His whole life was an example that categorizing people and stigmatizing people was foolish and wrong,” Olson said.

rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941

Other comments about David arrived in my email as the day went on:

Many of you have heard the news, but for those of you that have not, I am sad to announce that we have lost a true member of the Consumer/Survivor movement. Dave Romprey died last night of what is believed to be natural causes.
Jim Russell of the BCN stated it correctly-A Hole in the world. That is truly what David has left. David left us last night in body but certainly not in spirit. As I sit here typing this notice I can? t help but reflect over the past 10 years that I have known David. For me David can be summed up in one word-Passion! Passion for Life, Passion for change, Passion for those still suffering, Passion for his friends and Passion for his family. He has left a legacy and a baton to be passed.

He is Truly missed.

Rebecca Eichhorn,
President, Oregon Consumer/ Survivor Coalition

Thank you for letting us know about David Romprey – how could someone so young die of “natural causes”? He was so dedicated, so full of life, so articulate (check out this essay he wrote just a few years ago: http://akmhcweb.org/Articles/WhyIAmNotaConsumer.pdf ) I have memories of him waiting to testify before the Oregon Legislature, busy with his laptop, thinking a mile a minute, yet quick with a smile or an encouraging word.
I cannot believe his shining bright light has gone out so soon.
Karen Cormac-Jones in Salem

It is a shock for me to read the news about David Romprey.

I remember the first time I met David R- he was working on what became the grant that started Empowerment Initiatives, out of the OHSU. I was director of a support services brokerage in developmental disabilities and he came by for advice about building self- directed supports in mental health. I was very excited by the idea but didn’t know how long it would take or if it would become reality.
Later, I met someone who had been working on the advisory board for the project just before it began (we were both in the psychiatric ward at the time). After I was let loose, I showed up at a board meeting and quickly joined the effort along with David.
EI is still going and is still (I think) the nation’s only consumer operated brokerage in mental health support services.
I had the opportunity to be at the state capital a couple of times with David, testifying on behalf of self-directed supports and related legislation. I was always especially amazed by how many people he knew- he literally greeted by name just about everyone we met or saw (many of whom were politicians or state mental health staff).
I will miss David and miss what he brings to the table of the consumer/ survivor movement.
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2 Comments

Filed under CS/X movement, Mental health recovery, mindfreedom news, wellness and systems change

2 responses to “Very Sad News

  1. Oh, Thanks! Really funny. Big ups!

  2. rickpdx

    I don’t know why you wrote this comment for this article-
    I am hoping that you simply got your comment in on the wrong post.
    David’s death is anything but funny.
    I have however been posting a lot of silly stuff lately so maybe it was mixed up.
    Thanks for reading!

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