Chip Gatchell Memorial
On June 1, 2015, the COPD community lost a friend and ardent supporter with the passing of Chip Gatchell of Nashua, New Hampshire. A legend in the world of COPD, Chip was fairly well known long before being diagnosed with COPD. His work as an engraver and artesian, Chip was instrumental in the creation of such monuments as the Boston Athletic Association Marathon’s medallion Boston as well as the Vietnam Memorial in Rochester, New York.
Shortly after being diagnosed and no longer able to pursue his work as an engraver, Chip turned his talents to web design. Chip became a co-founder of COPD International, and at a time when “chat rooms and list serves” were still in their infancy, Chip designed and managed the COPD International website. The site allowed patients across the country to communicate with other patients to share their stories, concerns, as well as sharing COPD news and advances. For many newly diagnosed, Chip’s work provided eagerly sought information and outreach and helped to improve countless lives. His work with Breathe New Hampshire will continue to bring COPD awareness to the citizens of the state he loved.
Just over ten years ago, Chip helped establish the COPD Foundation and served on its board of directors, as well as the editorial board of the COPD Digest. Moreover, he established the C.O.P.D. Foundation Information Line, a support line staffed by COPD patients and caregivers. At a time when such technology was still very “simplistic”, Chip was able to design an efficient and in many ways ground breaking platform that became a model emulated by other patient organizations.
When Chip first began his work in COPD, the disease was still very much hidden from public view as were those who suffered from it. It was the work of people like Chip that helped bring the term “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” into the eyes of the public and as a result helped bring about a new era that is resulting in new treatments, research, and technologies that improve the quality for the COPD community.
While he received numerous accolades and awards, they were not the driving force behind what Chip did. His rewards were counted by the many messages he received from those he never really knew, all expressing their gratitude for what Chip helped them accomplish in their COPD journey.
Chip expressed his hopes that the work we are able to accomplish made a difference. He said he hoped others would one day step up and “carry the flag” when he was no longer able to, because there still was so much work left to do. His concerns were always for others, and rarely himself. In our lives, if we are fortunate enough, we will touch a life. Chip in his life and his work touched many thousands of lives by providing support, love, and friendship at a time when it was needed the most. His work changed lives, and the future will echo the legacy he left us.
The COPD Foundation extends our sincere condolences to Chip’s longtime companion Betty, his family, and countless friends. We are grateful for having Chip in our lives and a part of the Foundation and the community we represent.
Per Chip Gatchell’s final wishes, donations made in his honor can be made to COPD International. To make a donation, please visit: http://www.copd-international.com/Donations.htm