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A Legacy of a Daughter's Smile and Songs

June Larrabee

By Chandra Harris-McCray

Fifteen years have passed, but June Larrabee can still see the colors of autumn leaves dotted along a Memphis road where her only daughter was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 17.

Time has been a healer but cherished memories of Kathy remain. Tears still stain Larrabee's face when she catches herself singing a song on the radio she normally belted off key with her daughter or saying a phrase that would have come from her daughter's mouth.

"It is such a terrible loss when you lose a child," she said. "The pain is like an elephant sitting on your chest."

Planting a tree or placing a memorial wreath on the roadside where Kathy died was not enough for June and her husband, James, who now live in Florida. They have shared and connected others to the intricate journey of Kathy, who suffered from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), by establishing a research endowment in her memory at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The Lauralee Kathryn Larrabee Endowment shines a light on the unvarnished reality of ADHD, a chronic disorder affecting millions of children who struggle with poor school performance, troubled relationships and low self-esteem.

While there is no cure, "there is still so much to be learned about ADHD from which parents can benefit," June said.

"Kathy's smile could light up a room but behind her smile was so much not understood. If our gift can be used to solve those unanswered questions of ADHD, then Kathy's life will continue to have a profound impact for generations to come."

June left her impression on the UT Health Science Center's College of Nursing as the first doctoral graduate in 1992. While pursuing her educational endeavors, she continued working at the Memphis campus in a joint appointment between the College of Nursing and the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

"It is not only the place where I received my Ph.D.," June said. "It is the place where people offered a great deal of support and allowed me to tell the story of Kathy and remember her. UT Memphis will always hold a dear place in my heart."

The soul of June's scholarly pursuits has focused on quality health care. With more than 40 years of nursing and leadership experience as a staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, educator, director of nursing quality improvement, author and researcher, she currently serves in a joint appointment between West Virginia University's School of Nursing and West Virginia University Hospitals.

June said that at the core of the UT Health Science Center's statewide academic health system is the determination to "improve lives through education, research, clinical care, and public service."

"My daughter's legacy lives on by helping to improve the lives of others," she said. "Kathy will always live on in my heart."

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The University Of Tennessee a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

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