- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

John E. Luehrs, former national coordinator for health and long-term care issues at AARP’s Department of State Affairs, died May 14 of a heart attack at his home in Arlington. He was 59.

Among his many public-policy accomplishments, Mr. Luehrs led efforts to enact state-sponsored prescription-drug programs and policies that made drugs more affordable.

He helped enact laws to protect nursing-home patients and worked to improve nursing-home quality — efforts that expanded home- and community-based long-term care services and increased the number of people eligible for financial assistance for that care.

Mr. Luehrs also helped develop cutting-edge model legislation, analyze public-policy proposals, develop advocacy messages, and negotiate strategy and tactics that helped AARP state offices serve the needs of those 50 and older.

Before joining AARP in 1993, Mr. Luehrs served at the National Governors Association, where he directed health programs and research on health and long-term care issues such as Medicaid. He also advised governors and senior state officials on health and long-term care policy issues.

Mr. Luehrs was a frequent participant in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services work groups and state task forces and commissions. He also published and directed research on a wide range of health and long-term care issues.

Born in New Holstein, Wis., Mr. Luehrs served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

He attended the University of Wisconsin in Osh Kosh, as well as San Francisco State and San Jose State universities. He also performed doctorate work at Washington University in St. Louis.

While in California, Mr. Luehrs was instrumental in organizing farmworkers and worked with Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and others who formed the United Farm Workers Union.

Mr. Luehrs is survived by his wife, Pat Bell of Arlington; daughter Caroline Bell-Luehrs of Arlington; and brothers Bill Luehrs of Bakersfield, Calif., and Paul Luehrs of Chicago.

Memorial donations can be sent to the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 223953, Chantilly, VA 20153.

James Cameron, 92,museum founder

MILWAUKEE (AP) — James Cameron, who survived an attempted lynching by a white mob in Indiana and went on to found America’s Black Holocaust Museum, died June 11. He was 92.

Mr. Cameron had suffered from lymphoma for about five years, said Marissa Weaver, chairwoman of the Milwaukee-based museum’s board.

In 1930, in Marion, Ind., Mr. Cameron and two friends were arrested and accused of killing a white man during a robbery and raping the man’s companion.

A mob broke them out of jail and hanged Mr. Cameron’s two friends, then placed a rope around his neck.

“They began to chant for me like a football player, ‘We want Cameron, we want Cameron,’” he recalled in a 2003 interview with the Associated Press. “I could feel the blood in my body just freezing up.”

The 16-year-old shoeshine boy was spared when a man in the crowd proclaimed his innocence.

Mr. Cameron was convicted of being an accessory before the fact to voluntary manslaughter and spent four years in prison; he was granted a pardon in 1993. He said he had been beaten into signing a false confession.

Mr. Cameron said he was inspired to create the museum by a 1979 trip to Israel and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

In 1988, he opened the museum in a small storefront room in downtown Milwaukee. Six years later, he took over an abandoned 12,000-square-foot gym the city sold him for $1. The museum explores the history of the struggles of blacks in America from slavery to modern day and was considered one of the first of its kind in the country.

“The museum is his legacy,” Miss Weaver said. “That was his life’s work — to share with the world the injustices that African-Americans have suffered while at the same time, and most importantly, providing an opportunity to repair bridges that have been suffered because of our history.”

Mr. Cameron is survived by his wife, Virginia; and three children.

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