- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Dana Reeve, who won worldwide admiration for her devotion to her “Superman” husband, Christopher Reeve, through his decade of near-total paralysis, has died of lung cancer at 44.

Mrs. Reeve, a singer-actress who gave up some of her career to be one of the nation’s best-known caregivers, died late Monday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Mrs. Reeve had succeeded her husband as chair of the foundation, which funded research into spinal-cord paralysis cures. She announced in August that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. She wasn’t a smoker.

Doctors say 20 percent of women diagnosed with the disease never lit a cigarette.

Miss Lewis visited Mrs. Reeve in the hospital Friday and said Mrs. Reeve was “tired but with her typical sense of humor and smile, always trying to make other people feel good, her characteristic personality.”

Four months ago, at a fundraising gala for the foundation, Mrs. Reeve looked healthy in a long, formal gown and said that she was responding well to treatment and that her tumor was shrinking.

“I’m beating the odds and defying every statistic the doctors can throw at me,” Mrs. Reeve said then. “My prognosis looks better all the time.”

Asked how she kept her spirits up, Mrs. Reeve said she “had a great model.”

“I was married to a man who never gave up,” she said.

She was still looking well on Jan. 13, when she sang Carole King’s “Now and Forever” at Madison Square Garden during the retirement ceremony for Mark Messier’s New York Rangers jersey.

Mr. Reeve, star of Hollywood’s “Superman” movies, became an activist for spinal-cord research after a horse-riding accident paralyzed him in 1995. He died Oct. 10, 2004.

Mrs. Reeve was a constant companion and supporter of her husband during his long ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal-cord injuries.

The couple had a 13-year-old son, Will, and Dana Reeve had two grown stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

Mrs. Reeve had appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and regional stages and on the TV shows “Law & Order,” “Oz,” and “All My Children.”

She was performing in the Broadway-bound play “Brooklyn Boy” in California when she had to rush home to reach her husband’s bedside before he died. She gave up the role for the New York run.

A year ago, she won a Mother of the Year award from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Michael Thun, a society vice president, said Mrs. Reeve “has shown strength and courage in the face of tremendous adversity.”

In addition to her son and stepchildren, she is survived by her father and two sisters.

No funeral plans were announced. The family said donations could be made in her memory to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation in Short Hills, N.J.

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