New Mobility contributor Mark Boatman died on December 8 of complications related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In addition to his work with NM, Boatman was published in Quest magazine and built a reputation as an effective disability rights advocate, notably for voting rights and deinstitutionalization. He was 42.
In 2003 Boatman began using a vent. Under North Dakota Medicaid rules, this meant he was using “skilled nursing,” thus no longer eligible for home-based attendant services. “The only option for me was a nursing home,” said Boatman in an interview with ventusers.org. “It was hell. The nursing home told me when I could shower, when lunch was going to be, and when I had to be in bed. And … there was just no privacy. I got very depressed.”
Fortunately he met Theresa Martinosky and Dustin Hankinson through an MD support group, and the couple moved Boatman to Missoula, Montana, in 2006. The three became roommates, with Martinosky providing attendant services for both men.
A free man once more, Boatman decided to go to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana in 2012, graduating with high honors. “I had been watching his posts on social media for a while, waiting for him to graduate,” says Josie Byzek, NM managing editor. “I was impressed with his intellect and his insight on a broad range of disability issues and wanted our readers to benefit from his talent.” He became NM’s primary news writer from 2012 to 2016, when he cut back on assignments due to health problems. He also wrote blog entries and features on subjects ranging from outdoor recreation to emergency planning.
Boatman also wrote an article for NM entitled “Buying a New Home” about the house he, Martinosky and Hankinson purchased and made accessible in 2015. The family and their seven pugs happily lived in their new home until this past May 16, when Hankinson passed away, also from complications of Duchenne.
“No matter how much time you spend with those you love on the day they leave this existence, that time will never seem long enough,” wrote Martinosky on Facebook about Boatman’s death. “Tell your partners, family, friends and pets how you feel. Hug someone, share a smile, spread some love and when you do, think of Mark and smile.”
The link to Boatman’s “Buying a New Home” is here, and if you click on Boatman’s name you can read more of the 200-plus articles he wrote for NM as well.