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Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) - March 20, 1999
Deceased Name: Paula Lipkin, who sought a healthier environment, dies
Paula Lipkin dedicated half of her life to counseling others with environmental illness. In the 1970s she cofounded the Twin Cities Chapter ofthe Human Ecology Action League, now known as the Chemical Injury Resource Association of Minnesota, a self-help and advocacy group.
Lipkin, who since childhood had environmental illness (EI), which can take the form of many sicknesses, died Tuesday at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul. She was 52.
Her passion was working to protect the environment and to change the health care industry's views on the rights and care of EI patients, said a friend, David McCaffrey of St. Paul. He said she tried to raise environmental awareness in everyone she met.
"She was like an angel to me," said McCaffrey, who had chronic fatigue syndrome when he met Lipkin in 1977. He said she taught him how to protect himself from environmental elements by using organically produced goods.
"She could have easily been a physician," he said.
Near the end of her life, Lipkin had to stay home, but she continued to help people through the phone, he said.
Her sister, Rachel Lipkin of Minneapolis, said: "Paula was my only sister, so we were very close. She was so connected to anyone who was in contact with her. And her illness made her, on a daily basis, appreciate life, and [she] loved it more."
Rachel Lipkin said her sister was so sensitive to the environment that she could feel the effects of an oil spill 10 blocks away, and bus fumes often made her faint. Even tap water burned her skin.
"All those fumes impacted Paula," she said. "She likened herself to the canaries in the coal mines" that were used to test whether fumes were toxic.
In a July 1993 Star Tribune article about chemical use in yards and gardens, Paula Lipkin said that she remembered catching fireflies as a child and asked why no one in the Twin Cities sees them anymore.
"I go outside or open a window, and instead of smelling fresh air, I smell lawn spray, bug spray. It is disheartening," she said then. "I prefer to use the organic treatment, not just on the lawn but also as insect control."
In addition to her sister, Lipkin is survived by her parents, Sol and Betty, of Minneapolis, and two brothers, Bill, of Minneapolis, and Charles, of Golden Valley.
Services were held Friday.
Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities