Tuesday, March 7, 2006; Posted: 8:27 a.m. EST (13:27 GMT)
WHITE PLAINS, New York(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 age 44.
Reeve, a singer-actress who gave up some of her own career to be one of the nation's best-known caregivers, died late Monday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, said Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which both Reeves had chaired.
Dana Reeve wasn't a smoker but she announced in August that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The couple had a 13-year-old son, Will, and Dana Reeve had two grown stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.
"On behalf of the entire board of directors and staff of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are extremely saddened by the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us," Lewis said in a statement.
Christopher Reeve, the one-time Hollywood "Superman" turned activist for spinal cord research after a 1995 horse-riding accident, died in 2004.
Dana Reeve was a constant companion and supporter of her husband during his long ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal cord injuries.
She was chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, which funds research on paralysis and works to improve the life of the disabled. To date, it has awarded $55 million in research grants and $7.5 million in quality of life grants.
She was performing in the Broadway-bound play "Brooklyn Boy" in California when she had to streak home to reach her husband's bedside before he died. She gave up the role for the New York run.
Reeve also served on the boards of The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, TechHealth, and The Reeve-Irvine Center for Spinal Cord Research and as an advisory board member to the National Family Caregivers Association.
She received numerous awards for her work, including the Shining Example Award from Proctor & Gamble in 1998, an American Image Award from the AAFA in 2003. In 2005, the American Cancer Society named her Mother of the Year.
In addition to her son and step-children, she is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini, and sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman.
No funeral plans were announced. The family said donations could be made in Dana Reeve's memory to the Christopher Reeve Foundation in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Am I the only one who didn't see this coming at all? How sad!