Elizabeth "Libby" Brown Whaley

1956 - 2012, Santa Barbara

Elizabeth (Libby) Brown Whaley, 56, of Santa Barbara, CA, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, April 13.

She was born to the late Neal Archie and Millie Sykes Brown, Feb. 19, 1956, in Youngsville, NC. Libby graduated from East Carolina University in 1978 with a Bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation. She received a Master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of La Verne in 1993. She married John (Jack) L. Whaley, Jr. in 1986.

Libby worked as the Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital of Santa Barbara until her retirement in 2010 and was passionate about making a difference in the lives of her patients. In 2008 she received the CRH Team Member of the Year Award. Libby also served two terms as president of the Jodi House board of directors and was instrumental in helping the organization establish their first permanent center on Veronica Springs Rd. in 1994. She was the co-director of the Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp in 2008 and co-chair of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Libby loved gardening, hiking, creating art in a wide variety of media and vacationing at her home in Baja. Among her many adventures, she toured Thailand on a motorcycle, hiked across the Baja peninsula, and donated eyeglasses to locals while sailing throughout Vanuatu.

Libby is survived by her husband, Jack Whaley; her sister, Debbie (George) Williams and her brother, Tony (Paula) Brown, both of Greenville, NC. She is also survived by five nieces and one nephew.

Memorial donations may be made to the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation to support therapeutic outreach programs. Donations may be sent to: “Libby Whaley Slush Fund,” c/o Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, 2415 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

All are welcome to a gathering of friends and family to remember Libby on Friday, May 18 in Godric Grove at Elings Park, Santa Barbara, from 3-6 p.m.

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I had the pleasure of working with Libby for many years at the Rehabilitation Institute prior it being acquired by Cottage Hospital. Libby was not only a highly competent therapist, she was compassionate and a pleasure with whom to work. She pursued her non-clinical credentials, which only enhanced her skills as a clinical manager in a non-profit hospital which survived only due to the support of the community. Insurance companies, including Medicare, cover little or none of the services that Libby and her well-chosen staff provided. Quality of life issues are generally not considered priorities in the insurance world. But in Libby's view, quality of life for people who suffered from life-altering events was the key to how they lived the rest of their lives. Many of her patients returned to work and resumed being productive members of society. Others simply were able to learn how to enjoy their lives and overcome obstacles to their disabilities.

I remember countless times that Libby, fully aware of the fiscal constraints, would come up with creative and productive plans to raise money for a single patient's needs, or sometimes, on a larger scale. She never asked for the hospital to come up with extra money without a well thought out proposal on how to raise that money, and, consequently, her patients benefitted from her creative and dedicated work. She frequently spent her own time on evenings and weekends to provide quality of life opportunities for her patients. She also spent her own money in these endeavors. Libby was a gem who made the most of her opportunity to help others. I will miss her very much, as will countless others who had the pleasure to meet her.

My condolences go out to her family and everyone who knew Libby.

Gandalf47 (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2012 at 10:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Libby was the amazing woman that motivated me to dig deep, work hard and run towards my fears after my stroke. Libby always seemed to float in a magical world of dance and art, like an angel in human form. I loved being around her; she always made this adventure of life more interesting. She was a hero; she changed the world for thousands of us stroke survivors at the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital.

I will never forget Libby Whaley.

powdrell (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2012 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I had been trying to formulate a comment about Libby, and then saw that Gandalf47 put exactly my thoughts into words. I also worked with Libby at Rehab years ago. She was compassionate to the core, and her compassion was genuine and selfless. She saw every individual, and her approach was tailor-made to each. I agree that she was creative in finding solutions to help people in the face of few resources, and she did so without whining. She shifted my view of what is important in rehabilitation. Before I met her, I thought Therapeutic Rec was a peripheral luxury. After, I came to see it is as part of the core of what is important in rehab and health generally. I saw how for many clients, it was the single most valuable intervention. This shifted how I provide client care. She made a significant lasting impact on many clients and health professionals.

Condolences to all.

abcd (anonymous profile)
April 21, 2012 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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