In the early morning hours of January 9, 1995, we received a call informing us that long-time cryonics activist and ACS Governor Margaret Bradshaw had committed suicide by shooting herself in the chest. Primarily because of the persuasion of Dr. Steve Harris, we were allowed to pack Margaret's head in ice shortly after the police completed their investigation and the body was brought into the county morgue. The body was autopsied at about 9:30 a.m., with cooperation by the county medical examiners to the extent of (1) excluding the head from the procedure, (2) doing this examination as the first such procedure of the day, (3) allowing us to pack the entire body in ice upon completion of the examination. She was then flown from San Francisco to southern California for perfusion and completion of the suspension which included neuro conversion. Long-term cryogenic storage will be at CryoSpan in southern California.
When any cryonicist becomes a "coroner's case" there are, of necessity, many compromises in the quality of suspension. Given these severe restrictions, Margaret's suspension went fairly well. The county medical examiner cooperated about as much as we can reasonably expect in this day and age where cryonic suspension is not considered medical practice. More than any other factor, Dr. Harris' telephone discussions with the medical examiners help to establish credibility and cooperation. Our cooperating morticians were also of considerable help in taking over the responsibility for transport which freed us to concentrate on other aspects of the suspension.
Margaret's family and friends were most supportive. Because Margaret had been so open concerning her cryonics involvement, everyone close to her knew she was a cryonicist and honored Margaret's wishes even though some of them were personally skeptical.
The BioPreservation team did an excellent job, especially considering the difficult circumstances. They were set up and ready to proceed as soon as the patient was presented to them. Since I don't know what confidentiality restrictions may apply to the Biopreservation operation, I won't identify team members.
The Northern California Emergency Response team consisted of Sandra Russell, Naomi Reynolds, Edgar Swank, and myself. Sandra Russell's mobile phone proved especially helpful. We were able to keep closely in touch with Mike Darwin and the other Biopreservation team members whenever we felt consultation was necessary.
Introduced to cryonics through her friendship with Jerry White. It was Margaret who served as Jerry's primary care giver during Jerry's long bout with AIDS. Many aspects of Jerry's suspension were the best we have ever had. This success was in large measure due to Margaret's diligence and dedication.
Even when life seemed darkest and some psychological forces we don't understand compelled Margaret to take her own life, there must have been a part of her which still saw hope. When her life ended at age 50, she spared her brain, the usual target for gunshot suicides. Giving up on life in the 20th century was not necessarily saying good-by for good.
At Margaret's memorial service on Sunday, January 15, at Oak Park's Chapel of Roses in San Jose, friends and family were invited to share memories of Margaret. We cryonicists spoke of Margaret's contribution to our movement. We knew her as a dedicated, industrious worker for the cause.
Cryonics was very much a "hands on" experience for Margaret. Besides her administrative cryonics work, she was a suspension team member on several experiments and assisted in mixing and other preparation of perfusate. Her background in biology made her a great asset to us during suspensions. Margaret was never shy about her cryonics involvement. Besides interesting her friends and family, she was a guest on the Sally Jesse Raphael's cryonics topic show. Dr. Dick Marsh and Dr. Avi Ben-Abraham also were guests.
She was a suspension member since 1985, an ACS Governor since 1990, and our Treasurer for the past two years. Prior to 1990 she served as a Trans Time Director and as Board Secretary.
At Margaret's memorial service, many of Margaret's colleagues from her work with Sterling Software attended, and several told work related antecdotes. Sterling Software is a contractor to NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Margaret had worked for Sterling since 1988.
Much of Sterling's work, including Margaret's job assignment, was done "on base," that is, right at Ames. Margaret was a Project Manager, most currently with the Graphics Development Project. In that capacity she managed the contractor group at Ames which was responsible for supporting advanced graphic hardware for the computer systems and research division of the Ames scientific community. Her work included system administration, site planning, trouble shooting, and network administration. Her boss summed up Margaret's job as "riding herd on an extremely talented group of individuals." And to "ride herd" Margaret had to understand the task and the tools extremely well.
She co-authored a paper entitled On the Theory and Application of Stereographics in Scientific Visualization which was presented at the 1991 Eurographics Convention. She also is a co-author of the book From Computer Graphics to Advanced Visual Communication, in which she wrote the chapter on "Stereographics."
Prior to her work for Sterling, Margaret was a Software Engineer for Applied Materials, Inc. in Santa Clara where she wrote programs for process control of semiconductor processing equipment.
She graduated from tne University of California at Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Computer and Information Science in June of 1986. She also attended Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Califoria, U.C. Berkeley, and U.C. Hayward majoring in Biology. We have a newspaper clipping of an article published in 1967 picturing Margaret and entitled: College Student Makes Analytical Biology Study. The article reports that Margaret, while a second year Biology major at Contra Costa College, researched the "Serum Analysis of Dietary Deficiencies by Disc Electrophoresis."
One of Margaret's high school friends spoke briefly at the Memorial, and told of when they attended Anna Head High School in Oakland. Margaret graduated in 1962 and was known to the her fellow students as "Midge."
Margaret's brother Stan, who is now a lawyer in Helena Montana, told us of going on camping and river rafting trips with Margaret. Stan said that he just got to know Margaret well in the past five years, but when he did get to know her he found he liked her very much.
After Margaret's death, her old and dear friend Nancy Witstine discovered a couple of poems Margaret had written (which we include). Margaret had never mentioned her writing, but had told us of her admiration for Jerry White's poetry.
Like many of her fellow cryonicists, Margaret was an intelligent, highly accomplished person. Unlike some of us, she was also modest and private. Just this past year, Margaret took up flying and frequently talked about the thrill of guiding her own plane through the clouds.
The same adventurous spirit which prompted her to learn to fly at age 49, ten years earlier led her to enroll as a suspension member of the American Cryonics Society. The controls are in our hands now, Margaret, and we'll do what we can to ensure a safe landing for you and our other passengers.