Fead accepted the recognition at the nonprofit organization’s annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner held Sept. 17 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. The evening gala celebrates individuals for their contributions to advance the science of human aging.
In addition to Fead, this year’s recipients were U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams; Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; and Dr. John Tisdale, principal investigator of the Molecular and Clinical Hematology Branch at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Fead has been a personal friend and mentor to me, and many others, for the past 30 years. Upon her return to Montecito, we sat down for a cup of tea at her lovely beachside home so I could hear how things went. She was still ebullient about the award.
She acknowledged that being the last to speak was “nerve wracking,” but once she was introduced by Calvin Schmidt, vice chairman of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation World Without Disease Accelerator, and began her speech, it was smooth sailing. Afterward, she received a standing ovation.
At 85, Fead considers herself blessed and fortunate. She is gorgeous, smart, talented — and a cancer survivor for the past 17 years.
Her full life of professional accomplishments include artist, ceramicist, photographer, interior designer, community activist, and author of inspirational books about aging and about living with cancer.
Among her books are Aging in High Heels: Living Life with Passion Hope & Laughter; I Can Do This: Living with Cancer, Tracing a Year of Hope; and Nana, What’s Cancer? which she wrote with her granddaughter, Tess, and explains cancer to children.
Fead is updating her first book, I Can Do This, after 17 years, and is writing a book of poetry.
She also writes the Aging in High Heels blog that is filled with inspirational content about aging with acceptance, humor and style. She is a popular speaker at Maravilla Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara and at Canyon Ranch Tucson, and has even given a TEDx Talk.
Although Fead is grateful for the Alliance for Aging Research award, her eyes well up when she talks about her husband, Bob; their children and grandchildren; and her many friends as the true awards of her life.
“This was the most exciting honor I have ever received, but the things I’ve done are because I love doing them, not because I ever expected to receive an award doing them,” she said.
— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.