Dedicated Columbia activist Christy Welliver dies at 59

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | 10:16 p.m. CDT; updated 11:57 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 11, 2011

COLUMBIA — Many things got in Christy Welliver’s way, but she was always determined to try to make sure that she, and those around her, would find a way past those obstacles.

Welliver, 59, died late Tuesday at University Hospital after being in a coma. She had been hospitalized for about six weeks.

Her friends and family surrounded her, as they had her entire life, said long-time friend, Cyndi Koonse.

Welliver had multiple sclerosis and had used a wheelchair since 1985.

Welliver, the daughter of former Missouri Supreme Court Judge and Sen. Warren D. Welliver, was an activist for many causes in Columbia, most notably for her outspokenness on equal rights for persons with disabilities.

Welliver was a co-founder and served as vice president of the PedNet Coalition alongside PedNet’s first president, Chip Cooper.

“When we met, I told her that me and some people were putting together an effort to create a much more integrated trail network; she loved the idea and wanted to participate in it,” Cooper said.

In many ways because of her personality, and in many ways because of her own disability, she advocated for and succeeded in making sidewalks and entrances more accessible to those in wheelchairs throughout Columbia, Cooper said.

Welliver was constantly working to make things better for others rather than for herself, Koonse said.

Welliver volunteered for 19 years at the University Hospital's Multiple Sclerosis Institute, and was the “go-to person,” said long-time friend and co-worker Deanna Harper.

“If someone had a hard time dealing with (multiple sclerosis), she could handle it and create a more positive outlook," Harper said. "She was always willing to do news interviews and take on the cause head-on. Because she had such a positive outlook about her (MS), she was the perfect role model and spokesperson."

Aside from her work with PedNet and the Multiple Sclerosis Institute, Welliver was involved with many other programs as well.

She was active with the Mid-Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the Public Transportation Advisory Commission, Family Counseling Center of Missouri, Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center and the Boone County Democratic Central Committee.

“Reflecting, I think about how much I’m going to miss her positive energy, her gentleness, her smile, her pure determination to live life to its fullest regardless of what tried to get in her way,” Cooper said. 

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David Rosman August 11, 2011 | 3:11 p.m.

Sadness cannot explain how I feel. I will miss Christi's smile, sense of humor and sense of community.

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