St. Petersburg area residents were rocked Tuesday when news that longtime domestic-violence victim advocate Linda Osmundson had passed away.
Osmundson, herself a domestic violence survivor, worked to help other victims tirelessly for more than 40 years. She served as head of St. Pete’s Community Action Stops Abuse for 26 years, an organization created to help victims of domestic abuse re-establish their lives and survive the truly horrible. Under her leadership, CASA grew from a staff of seven working out of a small home to a 100-bed facility that opened last summer. The program also has a downtown outreach center, provides transitional housing, and has 80 employees.
Since her death, well-wishers have offered an outpouring of support for CASA, Osmundson’s family, and the quest to stamp out domestic violence. They’ve also offered touching tributes to the woman Osmundson was.
“Through her work, Linda Osmundson saved the lives of thousands and forever improved the lives of tens of thousands more,” a tribute on CASA’s website read.
Osmundson retired as head of CASA this summer at the same time the new facility opened.
“With the opening of our new shelter, I have such a proud legacy to leave behind. I cannot imagine a day I will feel more accomplished than the day our first family moves in. I look at this organization and all it has accomplished and I feel joy, and a sense of peace knowing all it will continue to bring to this community for decades to come,” Osmundson said when the facility opened.
“Linda Osmundson was a pioneer in her advocacy, making sure that we, as a community, never thought about domestic violence being limited to two individuals,” said Gaelynn Thurman, CASA’s board of directors vice chair. “Through her leadership at CASA, she educated all of us to know that domestic violence impacts children, families, employers and many of our community services and has lasting effects on the generations. CASA’s work to be done does end with the silence of her voice – this silence needs all of our voices to stand up and speak out to make sure our community and homes are a safe place.”
Others took to Facebook to share their thoughts about Osmundson’s character, professional accomplishments and activism.
“Linda Osmundson helped people in need her entire life and made St. Petersburg a better and safer place for women and children. My thoughts are with Linda’s family and the countless people she influenced and inspired.” – St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman
“She made an indelible mark on this community and was a mentor to so many of us. Wishing light and love to her family, friends, and colleagues.” – St. Pete City Council Chairwoman Amy Foster
“I am very sorry to read this sad news. But, hers is a life so worthy of celebrating. What a legacy she has left. She will be greatly missed in the community but the foundation she was so instrumental in establishing will live on.” – Mark Vernick
“Rest in power, Linda. Always engaging to talk Marxist feminism with an open-minded democratic socialist radfem.” – Vivian Oblivion
“I met her once; she was very sincere. What a loss.” – Lisa Hoffman
“A True Champion of domestic violence survivors.” – Gulfport Merchant’s Association
“Thank you Linda for you have done not just for me, mine, but everyone your life touched.” – Kathleen Condon
“Linda, who died at 66 on Monday, was my hero. And I will miss her every day. A lot of us will.” – Gary Shelton
“Linda was an extraordinary person who mentored so many just by being herself, a strong and courageous woman. I, and the rest of our community, have so much to be thankful for, as a result! We will all miss you! Thank you Linda!” – Sheila King
“Thank you Linda. You have done so much for so many. I have had the privilege to meet you and I know you truly cared and wanted to make a difference. My thoughts go out to your family. RIP.” – Barbara Martino
“Linda was an inspiration to so many. Her kindness & loving heart will live on.” – Evelyn McGrath
“The community has lost a true leader.” – Carole Maloney
“She was a wealth of knowledge she will be missed.” – Lisa Davis
“A tremendous loss for so many. I wish her Godspeed and a much deserved wonderful hereafter.” – Diane Flanagan
“Linda was a leader, mentor, advocate. She traveled the world spreading her passion. She was a giant and a dear friend.” – Kathy Catino
“I had the wonderful experience of being first an intern and then an advocate at the shelter many years ago. CASA remains my favorite place I’ve ever worked. It was a special place, made so by all of the amazing staff and volunteers who were guided and led by Linda.” – Amanda Dickson
CASA and Osmundson’s family ask that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the organization’s new shelter.
A Celebration of Life in Osmundson’s memory is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 22 at The Palladium in downtown St. Petersburg. All are welcome to celebrate Osmundson’s life and legacy.