I read with interest the “Opening Doors” article in the March issue of PAW. The challenges of Naomi Hess ’22 and others using wheelchairs at Princeton reminded me of my high school friend Linda Laubenstein. Afflicted with polio during the 1950s, Linda was in an iron lung for a time, but was later able to attend high school with us. Because our school was on two floors and not at all accessible, football players had to carry Linda up the stairs to classes.
Linda wanted to become a doctor. When the time came to apply to college, she was told that would be impossible, because of her handicap. Undaunted, she applied and was accepted to Barnard/Columbia, and then NYU Medical School. After graduation, she practiced medicine in New York City as a hematologist.
During the early 1980s, she became one of the first doctors in the world to recognize the emerging disease AIDS. Unlike many medical professionals fearful of this new disease, Linda treated her patients with compassion and fought for solutions. AIDS activist and playwright Larry Kramer featured a character based on her in his Broadway play The Normal Heart, later made into a movie.
We in the Barrington (Rhode Island) High School Class of 1965 were proud of our classmate Linda, soft-spoken but insistent, like Naomi Hess. I am sure her Class of ’22 colleagues will be equally proud of her achievements as they continue to emerge over the years. She will continue to make a difference.