Artist Peggy Chun dies at 62


POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Artist Peggy Chun, who once described living with a neurodegenerative disease as “;one hell of an adventure,”; and who used her illness to inspire her art even as it robbed her of all power of movement, died tonight.

  She was 62.

Her family and primary caregivers around her, Chun's pulse slowly failedat 9:35 p.m., family spokeswoman Lynn Cook said.

Chun was diagnosed in 2002 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease — the disease that had killed her grandfather, mother and twin sister. She continued to paint, however, at first switching to her left hand, then to holding a brush in her teeth and later to using a computer program that interpreted her eye movements.

Her family said Chun had specified an end-of-life plan to be implemented when she could no longer effectively communicate with her caregivers.

Cook said Chun died peacefully, and although she could no longer communicate, “;you knew she knew her friends were there.”;

In an e-mail sent earlier this month to family, friends and volunteers who helped with Chun's care, her daughter-in-law, Kimi Chun, invited Chun's many supporters to her home for an early Thanksgiving party and a send-off.

Her husband, Elroy Chun, gave a statement to mark “;Peggy's Thanksgiving fiesta”; regarding her approach to her long illness: “;Her always echoing words, 'I'm living with, not dying from ALS,' epitomize an arduous, courageous effort to achieve a quality of life that we all agree is unparalleled, and which apparently motivated and inspired many, especially with physical challenges, to want to try harder rather than dwell on negativity.”;

Chun is survived by her husband, Elroy Chun; children, Eric Chun and Lesley Streuli; stepson, Bruce Yong; father, Joe Richard; stepmother, Sara Richard; brothers, J.P., John, Matt, Mike and Peter Richard; and sister, Camile Richard Fox; and four grand-children.

Services will be held Dec. 5 at Kawaiahao Church. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m., with services at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Friends of Peggy Chun, 3115 Alika Ave. Honolulu 86817.