MILDRED CUTTER / GOVERNOR'S MOTHER
Mom inspired Lingle’s legislation
Mildred Cutter, the mother of Gov. Linda Lingle whose battle with bipolar disorder inspired her daughter to fight for improved mental health legislation, has died in a Los Angeles nursing home. She was 78.
Cutter died yesterday of an undisclosed illness, according to the Governor's Office.
Lingle left Monday night for California and it is not yet known when she will return, her office said. Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona has assumed the governor's responsibilities in her absence.
Cutter had been living in a nursing home, where Lingle visited her several times a year.
Lingle always was very candid in talking about her mother's mental illness, once describing its impact on her family in emotional detail during a House hearing in 2003.
That year, her first in office, she introduced and was successful in lobbying for a measure that required insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illnesses in benefit packages for members.
Lingle has said her mother's illness had perhaps the most significant impact on her life.
She was 8 years old when her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then known as manic depression, and rising medical bills eventually prompted the family to move from St. Louis to Southern California to be near relatives.
"I'm not looking for sympathy from you or from anybody else, but what my family did was use our education accounts to care for my mom," Lingle told lawmakers in 2003. "My dad had to come to us as his children and tell us we just had to take care of my mom."
"My mom is a terrific person," she added later. "She just has a chemical imbalance in her brain, and as I told the committee, it's like any other illness that should be covered by health insurance."
Lawmakers offered their condolences to the governor and her family yesterday, observing a moment of silence in both the House and Senate.
"All of us in Hawaii know and respect the particular importance of family," said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. "We are keeping the governor and her family in our thoughts at this difficult time."
House Speaker Calvin Say, whose parents died last year, said he was saddened by the news of Cutter's death.
"I extend my deepest sympathy to the governor and, on behalf of the House of Representatives, we offer our personal expressions of support and compassion during this difficult time," he said.
In addition to Lingle, Cutter is survived by her former husband, Richard Cutter, Lingle's father, who lives in Los Angeles. Details on other survivors were not immediately available.
Private services are scheduled on the mainland. The Governor's Office requested no flowers.
Condolences may be sent to the governor via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or through her Web site at hawaii.gov/gov.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Richard Cutter, the father of Gov. Linda Lingle, lives in Los Angeles. Originally, this article incorrectly reported that he lives in Honolulu.