In Memory

Rebecca Lancaster

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09/15/19 01:20 AM #1    

Bill Strubbe

These past few weeks since Purdue Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson have been forced to pay out billions of dollars for their knowing participation in the addiction and deaths of people using their opioid drugs, I have been thinking a lot about our classmate Becky Lancaster. Many of you don't know that opioid addiction was the cause of her death. Though I was at her memorial service, I did not know her well, and I don't know all the details. But she had gone through a period of addiction to opioids, then when her mother was dying, Becky managed to pull out of it to help her mom. Since Becky had never come to our reunions, I made a real effort to find her (turns out she lived not far from me in Oakland) and encouraged her to attend our 40th, which she did and enjoyed. Not long afterwards she succumbed again to opioids and eventually died.

Like many, I was of the mistaken notion that people addicted to opioids are flawed, weak-willed, or just a mess. But as we have learned through this murderous epidemic across the country, whatever physical or mental pain an individual might have experienced that got them addicted opioids to begin with, it was knowingly aided and abbetted by those who researched, produced, promoted, sold and prescribed the drugs. It boils down to predatory capitlism run amok, where greed and profits are paramount over human life. It enrages me that these companies, doctors, pharmacies, CEOs -- and in particular the vile Sackler family (the owners of Purdue) -- will be able to write it all off as the price of doing business, while it is likely that  individuals responsible will not see jail time. Families may be compensated and rehab clinics funded, but it will never bring back those who passed. 

I/we (the reunion committee) have made a point of not using our class website for promoting politics, but I couldn't help myself. Since she is the only person I know who died in this opioid crisis, Becky's is the face I see when I read the articles, it is her laugh I hear when I think of all the hundreds of thousands of people who mourn the loss of a loved one. And that it didn't have to be, except for the insufferable greed of a few.

If you believe in such things, take a moment to say hello to Becky, and send her loving thoughts, light, and laughter.  

Shalom, Salaam, Peace



09/15/19 02:00 PM #2    

Zach Whitman (Whitman)


Thank you for sharing about Becky and the cause of her death.  I got your rage.


09/15/19 02:23 PM #3    

Michael Huntsberger

Thanks Bill for sharing. Opiod addiction has touched our family too, in much the same way - a good person, racked with pain and left with no other options, taken too soon. I wish for justice for those who pushed these drugs, but far more I wish for compassion for those who must reckon with the terrible costs of addiction on a daily basis. Be good to those around you.

09/15/19 02:25 PM #4    

Vicky (Victoria) Umphreys (Curtis)

Bill, Beautifully written, thank you for sharing, especially with all of the bad news about the Sacklers...  Poor Becky, May she Rest In Peace.

09/15/19 04:27 PM #5    

Pamela Sutorius (Jungerberg)

Thank you Bill, and others, for sharing your passion and compassion. In my mind’s eye, Becky’s eyes and smile are dazzlingly bright, her laughter like a bubbling spring, creativity and artistry woven into her being.  May Peace be with her.  

09/16/19 12:47 PM #6    

Alec Ryals


I feel deeply for all there poor people on opioids hence I am one I don't take a lot but it seems they dont work after time!

God Bless

09/17/19 12:44 AM #7    

Russell Johnson

The opiod crisis has been devastating to the entire country.  More people died from opiod overdose just last year than in the entire Vietnam conflict (ha, ha -- aka war).  Yet, despite losing their 12-billion dollar lawsuit, there is no way Purdue Pharma (PP) will pay that out.  This last week Purdue Pharma declared bankrupcy.  PP will continue to pull these legal shenanigans and will probably pay almost nothing to opiod addiction victims.   Its likely PP will reorganize under the direction of the  bankrupcy courts, pay victims close to nothing, and go on almost unscathed, but possibly under a new corporate name -- but the same old leadership.  Welcome to corporate greed -- even at the expense of epidemic death and family destruction.

09/17/19 01:29 AM #8    

Gregory Sancier


I can remember vividly, and fondly, my first “sock-hop” at Jordan, in the cafeteria after school, on a Friday while in 7th grade. I recall the band blaring on stage in a dimly lit room; I was nervous with anticipation.  I can remember retreating to a side of the room with all of the other nervous boys.  Across the room were all the girls, equally nervous.  As I scanned the other side of the room I spotted this beautiful, brown haired, blue eyed girl.  I took that quantum leap and went over to ask her to dance, she sheepishly said “yes”.   I don’t even remember introducing myself or even asking her name!  It was Becky Lancaster. Naturally I was scared to death, nothing much was said. When the dance ended I thanked her.  My heart was beating out of my chest.  I got up enough nerve to ask her several more times and she agreed each time.  I was in heaven.

As the years went by I can remember attending parties at her house and then welcoming her to parties at my house while we were both in high school.  I recall her being the sweetest person with an amazing personality who loved to laugh and was adored by all those that knew her.  RIP Becky.

Dr. Gregory Sancier








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