Louise B. McKnew, spinal cord expert

March 01, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Louise B. McKnew, a lawyer who was a champion of spinal cord injury patients and founder of the National Research Institute for Neural Injury, died Tuesday from complications of pneumonia at Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

The Pasadena resident was 71.

Louise Bouscaren was born in Greenwich, Conn., and raised in Baltimore and Ruxton.

She was a 1956 graduate of Garrison Forest School and attended Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., until she left to get married.

After raising her family, Mrs. McKnew returned to college and earned a bachelor's degree in 1975 from American University. She went on to earn her law degree from the University of Maryland Law School in 1989.

From 1976 to 1982, Mrs. McKnew worked at the U.S. Information Agency as special assistant to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

After her son experienced a severe spinal cord injury in a 1978 car accident, she became an advocate for spinal injury patients and their families. She founded both the National Research Institute for Neural Injury and the National Spinal Cord Injury Association's office in Washington.

In 1981, she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the President's Council on Spinal Cord Injury and the White House Task Force for Spinal Cord Injury.

Mrs. McKnew became a nationally recognized expert on neural injuries' causes, care and research, with a focus on the political, social, economic and legal consequences of trauma.

From 1986 to 1989, she was chief administrative officer at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

After earning her law degree, she went into private law practice in Bethesda, representing victims who had sustained catastrophic disabilities, including quadriplegia and head trauma.

She was semiretired at her death.

Mrs. McKnew had been a board member of Reconcile Inc., the Foundation for Critical Care and the National Institute for Neural Injury, and had been president of the Independent Living Association.

She was an avid photographer and gardener.

Mrs. McKnew was a communicant of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, 4001 Yuma St., Washington, where a memorial Mass will be offered at noon March 20.

Surviving are a son, Donald H. McKnew III of Rockville; a daughter, Durrie McKnew Sticka of Pasadena; five brothers, Pierre Bouscaren of Falls Church, Va., Cornelius Bouscaren and R. Howland Clark, both of San Diego, Paul Bouscaren of Budd Lake, N.J., and Mark Bouscaren of Lompoc, Calif.; three sisters, Chloe Price of Baltimore, Marie Drinker of Wyndmoor, Pa., and Marie-Lise Bouscaren of Monterey, Calif.; and two grandchildren. Her marriage ended in divorce.

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