Midwives have lost a beloved friend, passionate champion, and tireless advocate who leaves a distinguished and indelible legacy that will continue to be felt in perpetuity.
Frances Tower Thacher, CNM, MS, FACNM, Trustee of the A.C.N.M. Foundation, passed away at her Bedford, NY home on March 25, 2019 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 65. A private memorial was held Saturday May 11, 2019. Frances’s family has asked that memorial donations be made in lieu of flowers to the A.C.N.M. Foundation’s Frances T. Thacher Midwifery Leadership Endowment Fund https://conta.cc/2D96TJW .
“Among the many things we honor about Frances Thacher were her singular contributions to the development of midwifery leadership throughout the profession, her openness and advocacy about chronic mental and physical illness, her steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion, and her remarkably selfless philanthropy on behalf of the midwifery profession,” noted Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FACNM, FAAN,President of ACNM.
Elaine M. Moore, CNM, MSN, FACNM, President of the A.C.N.M. Foundation, added, “There is simply no one who has done more professionally and personally – and for such a sustained period of time – to help us consistently realize our mission to promote excellence in health care for women, infants, and families worldwide through the support of midwifery. Her brilliance, compassion, vision and empathy are immeasurable.”
In recognition for all that Frances has done, in 2107, ACNM awarded her with the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award, which honors an exceptional midwife for continuous outstanding contributions and distinguished service to midwifery or maternal and child health. She was also inducted as a Fellow of ACNM in 2006.
While in clinical practice, she served ACNM at the national level as Chair of the Program Committee and a member of the Clinical Practice Committee. After leaving clinical practice in 2000 due to mounting health challenges, Frances embarked on a remarkable path as a volunteer and philanthropist. From that moment forward, she devoted herself to the A.C.N.M. Foundation, serving as Vice President of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Nominating Committee and Honorary Chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee.
In 2008, Frances and her late husband, Toby, established the Frances T. Thacher Midwifery Leadership Endowment Fund to enable the Foundation to continue preparing midwives as leaders and empowering midwives facing challenging clinical leadership roles, while advancing initiatives for women and midwives with chronic physical or mental conditions and striving to improve maternal child health care worldwide. Funding for numerous scholarships, awards, and project grants has advanced development of leadership skills for hundreds of midwives and improved care for untold numbers of women and families around the world. Just a few months ago, the Thacher Family made another gift of $100,000 to honor Frances and Toby’s remarkable legacy of selfless support for midwifery and midwives, and to spearhead exciting new endeavors that will actualize Frances’s vision to ‘empower midwives one at a time, each to their maximum potential.’The life and legacy of Frances Thacher were best captured in an article in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health celebrating her Hattie win (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jmwh.12697).