BRUNSWICK – Charlene B. Rydell, 64, died June 8, 2006, of cancer in her home. She will be buried in the Beth El Cemetery in Bangor beside her daughter-in-law, Lynn Rydell. She was born Oct. 11, 1941, to Harry and Henrietta Becker of Swampscott, Mass. After her father died, when she was eight, she moved with her sister and mother to Haverhill, Mass., where her mother joined a small family shoe-parts manufacturing business. She will be remembered as a tireless advocate for policies that promoted the public’s health, including access to affordable health care for all, the right of individuals with disabilities to live normal lives within their own communities and for services to children and families. Love of family and love of community were twin passions that led her to a career of service. She received her A.B. degree in 1963, from Brown University in classics, with a minor in English and education. In 1967, she received a master’s degree in community organization and social service administration from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences. In 1995, she received an honorary doctor of laws from the University of New England. On May 30, 1963, Charlene Becker married Lars Rydell. The two met at Brown University and found that they shared common interests and values that lasted for 43 years. From 1969 to 1972, she held several positions in the Division of Retardation in the Rhode Island State government, and was part of its pioneering effort to provide community-based housing and work opportunities for mentally retarded adults. In 1970-71, she also served as an instructor in Social Welfare and Social Policy at the University of Rhode Island Continuing Education Program for Women in Providence. In 1972, she served as an instructor in social welfare, Mount Saint Joseph College, Wakefield, R.I. In 1972, Charlene moved with her husband, Lars, and son, David, to Oslo, Norway. Her insights into human behavior and community institutions first led her to design and implement a Service Research Project for Young Mentally Retarded Children and their Families in the Oslo region. In 1974, she served as executive director of the Task Force on the Expansion of Services at Health Stations for Mothers and Young Children, Oslo Health Department. From 1974 to 1979, she served as assistant professor in community work at the Norwegian Diakonhjem School of Social Work in Oslo. In 1979, Charlene moved with her family to Brunswick, where she started Project SEARCH, a regional program for coordination of services to families with infants and preschool children with disabilities. Charlene Rydell was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1984 and served five terms. At that time the AIDS epidemic had just begun in Maine, engendering fear and uncertainty. In this context, Charlene became an early champion of programs for the prevention of HIV infection and for services to people infected with HIV. In this and other ways, she used her time in the legislature to realize her belief that “There is a destiny that makes us brothers /No one goes his way alone /All that we give into the lives of others /Comes back into our own.” Edwin Markham from his poem A Creed. As a legislator, she served on the Banking and Insurance Committee, which she chaired from 1987-90, and then as a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee from 1990-94. She also served on several committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures, including as chairman of the Children and Family Services Committee, chair of the Health Committee, and vice-chair of the State-Federal Assembly. From 1994 to 1998, she worked for the Milbank Memorial Fund of New York, first as project director of the Fund’s program for preventing domestic violence and then as a program officer. In 1998, she joined the staff of Congressman Tom Allen’s office in Portland as adviser on health care and social issues. She was part of Governor Baldacci’s core group that developed his Dirigo Health Reform Initiative in the winter and spring of 2003, was instrumental in its passage by the legislature, and served as a founding member of the Dirigo Health Agency Board. Throughout her career she served in many local, state, and national organizations, promoting services to children and families and advocating for universally available and affordable health care. Among the organizations where she served as a board member are the Merrymeeting AIDS Support Services, Brunswick, 1988-1993; the Independence Association of Retarded Citizens, Brunswick, 1990-2000; the National Advisory Committee on State Initiatives in Health Care Financing Reform, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1992-93; Families USA Foundation, Washington, D.C., from 1995 until her death; and member of the National Advisory Committee, “Healthy Steps for Young Children Program,” Commonwealth Fund, New York City, 1996-2002. In 2000, Charlene became a founding trustee on the board of the Maine Health Access Foundation, the largest non-profit health-directed charitable foundation in Maine. The foundation plans to establish the Charlene B. Rydell Lectureship as part of a larger program to educate Maine Legislators about key issues facing the state, honoring her many contributions to health policy in Maine and nationally. Among other awards, she received the Larry Connolly Award for Dedication to Justice and Equality for Maine Lesbian and Gay Citizens in 1998, the Congressman John Joseph Moakley Award for Exemplary Community Service in 2005, and the John Marvin Award in 2006. Her greatest pleasure came from walking on the beach and the time spent with her grandchildren. She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Lars Rydell of Brunswick; her son, David; her two grandchildren, Kate and Carl Rydell of Hermon; and her sister, Judi Becker of Dover, N.H. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Sunday, June 25, in the Healing Garden at the Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to carry on her work of promoting access to health care and equal justice policies before the Maine Legislature be made to the Charlene B. Rydell Fund at the Maine Community Foundation. Please send your donations to The Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605 or A service of Brookings-Smith, Bangor.