Dr. Jackie Owens (L) and Dr. Margaret Freda (R) at INANE 2014
To my INANE Friends,
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that our good friend and INANE colleague, Dr. Margaret Comerford Freda, Editor Emeritus of MCN, died early this morning (April 27) at her home in New York.
Margaret had been ill for several years, stemming from a diagnosis of giant cell arteritis in the fall of 2011. She faced numerous health complications and setbacks with strength and dignity, always professional and always composed. She is an inspiration!
As the Chair of last year’s INANE conference, it meant more to me than I can say that Margaret was able to make the trek from New York to Maine to join us for our meeting. She fully participated in everything, including the boat trip to the lobster bake on Tuesday night, as you can see in the picture above! It was a joy for me to be able to sit with Margaret for many of the sessions, particularly our closing poet, Richard Blanco. I will freely admit that we both sobbed our way through his presentation!
Margaret was so invigorated by her attendance at INANE–in her words, “I found my professional self again after being a patient for four years,”–that we took on the challenge of revising The Editor’s Handbook, first published by Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins in 2010. Again, as Margaret said to me, “I am not able to walk much, and I don’t breathe very well, and some days I can’t even talk–but I can sit and think and write.” She was fully engaged throughout the revision process, taking the lead on all ten chapters by revising content and updating references. Margaret also reviewed every single page in the first round of page proofs, meticulously noting tiny errors and making sure everything was correct. I knew she had had another health setback in the past two weeks. When I received the second round of pages for review last week I thought she might not be up to taking this on–but in her ever gracious way, she apologized profusely for “dropping the ball…I am so sorry, but my vision is so blurry right now…” Margaret, please know, you did not drop the ball! I am so proud to have your name above mine on this book when it comes out this summer!
Margaret and I first became friends when she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of MCN: The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing in 1997, and my name was suggested as someone who might have some useful advice. I suppose I did have a few tidbits to share, but I think in some ways, I benefited more in learning from Margaret. She has taught me so much! It was a wonderful honor for me last year to have her be my sponsor (with Marilyn Oermann) for my successful application to the American Academy of Nursing. Margaret was so disappointed that she was not able to be present for the Induction Ceremony, but truly, her generous spirit was with me all that weekend.
Margaret’s leadership in INANE is well known, from serving on several planning committees and chairing the conference in 2004 that was held at the Atlantis in the Bahamas. But I think she will always be remembered as the David who took on the Goliath of Impact Factors, paving the way to have nursing journals and nursing knowledge recognized in the Web of Science. When Margaret, along with Dr. Judy Lewis spearheaded this project in 2004, there were 33 nursing journals indexed in this database. Now there are 115. She was so proud of this accomplishment!
The Margaret Comerford Freda Award for Editorial Leadership in Nursing was established in 2011 and awarded to Margaret herself in 2012. Those of us on the committee that year had an easy job–she was the unanimous choice. To be honest, many of us were afraid that she wouldn’t be with us to accept the award that year, but she was–not in person but with us all the same. At INANE last summer, it was a thrill to have Margaret present her eponymous award to the 2014 winner, Dr. Peggy Chinn.
Plans for a memorial and so on have not been finalized; as soon as I have any information I will share with everyone here. In the meantime, I am sure Margaret’s husband John and her children and grandchildren would find great comfort in reading any memories or thoughts people want to share in the comments section of this post.