FRAMINGHAM – The town of Framingham has lost one of its leaders and its greatest advocate for the disabled. Karen Foran Dempsey, 54, died on Christmas Eve.
Dempsey was the founder of the Framingham Disability Commission and was elected to the Framingham School Committee of 9 in 2019. Dempsey represented District 2, the neighborhood where her sons attended Stapleton Elementary and then Cameron Middle School. It was the neighborhood she grew up in.
Foran was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a child. He used a scooter to get around the community and was a passionate advocate of people with disabilities. In 2002 she co-founded the Framingham Disability Commission.
Dempsey leaves her husband, Mark, and their twin sons, Joseph & William.
She is also leaving with mother Anne, brother Ed, twin sister Kathy Foran, a noted realtor, and sister Janet Leombruno, who was elected to the 11-person city council in 2019.
The two sisters were both in the 2019 city election and both won.
Leombruno today announced the death of her sister. Christmas day on social media.
“Last night we lost my sister Karen, it was sudden and unexpected and we are all heartbroken. She leaves a world that she loved and that she has improved her life. Her life wasn’t the easiest, but it would never be known. We want to thank the first responders for all they have done and for the tremendous outpouring of love. She is now flying high with angels and forever painless, ”wrote Leombruno.
“Karen was the rare person who struggled daily beyond personal challenges to devote limitless energy to community improvement. She was someone who really changed the lives of others. She spoke through actions, not words, ”said City Council Chairman George King Jr.
“Framingham’s disabled community has lost its brightest star and fearless lawyer. The city as a whole has lost a great leader who truly leaves the legacy of creating opportunity and breaking down barriers for so many, ”King said.
“My heart breaks for the Dempsey family and everyone whose lives have been touched by their kindness and advocacy,” said the school’s superintendent, Bob Tremblay. “This sudden loss in our ward at this time of the holiday celebration makes Karen’s passing all the deeper. I would like to offer my condolences to the Framingham Public School community. “
“Let’s take a moment and reflect on the great passion and dedication Karen has for people with disabilities and who are truly missed,” said Disability Commission chairman and close family friend Ricky Finlay.
“Karen has been a tireless advocate for the disabled community and the children of Framingham. The people of Framingham have lost a very special leader who has changed the lives of everything that has touched them and the lives of so many others who never had the opportunity to meet them in person, ”said Phil Ottaviani Jr., 6th District Councilor who has been Karen for decades. “Framingham and all of its residents are much better off today because Karen and everything she accomplished. My condolences to your family. “
“Karen was more than a co-commissioner and mentor to me, she was a friend,” said Sheryl Goldstein. “I learned a lot from Karen about resilience and spirit living with a disability. I miss working with her forever. She was a real advocate for the community. ”
“Karen was a lawyer and a leader. A real professional who has helped her community by making many positive changes over her years in specific and elected roles, ”said school committee chairman Adam Freudberg, who serves District 4.
“She really focused on those who needed help, such as B. Families with special needs education and the disabled community. She gave them a voice and acted for them in everything she did, ”said Freudberg. “Your sudden loss hits really hard and is a hard reminder of how never to take someone’s presence for granted. She was a member of our school committee family and will be greatly missed. We mourn with her husband Mark, her twin sons, her mother, her siblings, her family and friends. “
“” I am saddened by the unexpected loss of my friend and colleague. Karen has been a bitter long-time advocate for her family, friends, and many in our ward. This is an enormous loss. My heart goes out to her family and friends, ”said Tiffanie Maskell, Vice Chair of the Framingham School Committee.
“Her passion and desire to help people with disabilities was amazing,” said Finlay. Karen found a way to help everyone. She was determined. She never gave up. She was always passionate. She worked hard to change things. “
Dempsey fought for disability access at the Framingham Libraries, advocating that the new bookmobile have an elevator for everyone.
Dempsey fought hard and for a long time to make the historic village house accessible to all. In 2009, she complained that she was excluded due to an access issue and campaigned for it for a decade until the historic hall became accessible in 2019.
Dempsey was still fighting for disability rights in 2020.
“Disability is often left out when talking about diversity in Framingham. If Framingham is to be a truly welcoming and inclusive community for all, they will be thinking of and including people with disabilities, ”Dempsey said in a January statement to SOURCE.
She wanted communications out of town to be labeled. She fought for an ADA audit. She wanted the city’s ADA coordinator to do more and respond more quickly to complaints.
Dempsey brought the city’s first adaptive skating program to the community with the Disability Commission in 2019. Dempsey hit the ice with the program at the Loring Arena. She said it was the first time she was on the ice.
Dempsey and the Disability Commission partnered with SMILES Mass in Sudbury in 2019 on the city’s first accessible beach chair.
A year earlier, Dempsey pushed for disabled seating in front of the Memorial Building. She had repeatedly said she had no more excuses when it came to the disabled community.
“It is no longer okay or acceptable for our city officials and guides to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t even think about it’ or ‘I didn’t do it on purpose’ or ‘I didn’t mean anything by it.’ Uses excuses and therefore may refuse to accept people with disabilities, “wrote Dempsey in early 2020.
Dempsey was elected to the 2001 Town Meeting and acted as the county representative until the form of government changed on January 1, 2018.
She volunteered for various organizations including the Arthritis Foundation NE Chapter, the MetroWest Center for Independent Living, the West Suburban Chapter Mass. Mothers of Twins Association and several others. Dempsey became Framingham Elk in 2018.
Services are currently unavailable. The news agency will publish the obituary as soon as it becomes available.
Karen and her husband Mark outside Historic Village Hall, which Dempsey found open to all
Karen with her twin sons who are at Cameron Middle School.
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