Elven "Al" Sinnard Dies
The Death With Dignity movement has lost one of its heroes and pioneers. Elven "Al" Sinnard died March 23 of a pulmonary embolism. He was 82.
Sinnard helped write and fought for the passage of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, which legalized physician aid-in-dying in Oregon.
Sinnard became involved with the Death With Dignity issue after the death of his wife, Sara, in 1989. Sara ended her long struggle with heart disease alone in their bedroom. She insisted that Al not be present for fear he would be prosecuted for her hastened death.
Afterward, he and a small group of like-minded people began meeting in his basement to craft a law that would spare others the emotional and physical suffering he and his wife had endured.
He was a founding member and past director of the Oregon Right To Die political action committee, as well as the director of the Oregon Death With Dignity Defense and Education Center.
Barbara Coombs Lee, Compassion in Dying Federation's executive director, campaigned with Sinnard for the Death With Dignity Act throughout Oregon.
"He would tell the story of how Sara had to die, and the most compelling thing about that story was how he wasn't able to be there when she died, that she sent him away, and then he would choke up and say, 'My wife had to die alone. I couldn't be with her when she died, and that's not right,'" she said.
"He was a man of enormous intelligence, compassionate heart and remarkable courage," she added.
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This article was provided by Compassion in Dying. It is a part of the publication Compassion in Dying.