By Maria Stuart
Lucy Diebolt, a longtime LACASA volunteer, has to be one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. While she triumphed in her struggle over domestic violence, Lucy lost her battle with cancer on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.
As I write this, I struggle to find the right word to describe Lucy, because “brave” doesn’t really do her justice or describe her adequately.
“Lucy was a hero to me,” said David Morse, current chairperson of the LACASA board of directors and former Livingston County prosecutor. “She didn’t wear a cape or costume, but she was heroic in how she lived her life. She stepped to the forefront of the domestic violence movement, and she was instrumental in the formation of LACASA.”
You could say she was a domestic violence evangelist, or hero, or angel. I kind of like the recently coined word “badass,” which means formidably impressive.
Whichever word one might use to describe her, the truth is that Lucy took her personal experience and used it to help countless others. She was a woman with a mission.
A private, quiet, soft-spoken person, Lucy spent her life speaking up and telling her story: She was a face, a voice, and a fierce advocate for victims of domestic violence, and her own experience paved the way for countless others to escape dangerous situations and find safety.
When you consider Lucy’s legacy, you have to remember that there was a time when there were absolutely no resources for women fleeing dangerous relationships, and no shelters for safety. It was during that time that Lucy summoned the courage to leave the husband who rained horrific abuse upon her and nearly took her life.
After she escaped, Lucy dedicated herself to smoothing the path for other women. She didn’t just move forward with her life; she reached back to help those who were terrified, helpless and alone. She shone a light and showed others a way out, and like many of the pioneers of the grass-roots domestic violence movement, she opened the doors of her own home to provide safe haven for women and children.
“She was one of the first advocates,” said Bobette Schrandt, LACASA’s CEO. “Lucy was truly one of a kind. She loved LACASA, which was evident in her commitment and devotion to our work.”
In addition to serving multiple terms as chair, vice chair and member of LACASA’s board of directors, Lucy was a dedicated volunteer. She answered the phone when terrified victims called the LACASA helpline; she helped at special events; and most recently she coordinated volunteers at the LACASA Collection shop. Lucy also worked with Michigan’s Domestic Violence Prevention Treatment Board, and earned several awards for her achievements.
“Lucy was one of the first survivors to openly share her story,” said Debbie Felder-Smith, who led LACASA through the period that saw construction of its current shelter. “She bravely shared her experiences to help other victims, and to bring awareness of the need for change. She was a true advocate.”
And so, today, the community grieves.
“Words alone cannot express the huge hole we all are feeling,” Schrandt said. “Lucy’s passion for victims and survivors will live forever with us. She’ll be greatly missed.”
Lucy Diebolt is survived by her three children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Visitation is 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at MacDonald’s Funeral Home in Howell. Memorial contributions are suggested to LACASA, PO Box 72, Howell, Mich. 48844.
You can read her obituary by clicking here.