Paula Raised Two Truly Remarkable Sons- Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg Pays Glowing Homage To Fmr. Mother in Law.
In the office of the PACER Center that she co-founded and directed for decades, there was a sign that said, “nothing is impossible.”
That is a perfect moto for the incredible woman that the world lost today. Paula started her early career as a teacher in Minnesota. She saw how isolating it could be to be a parent of a child with a disability. So, in 1977, she brought together a small group of parents to support one another. That meeting grew into a program, which grew into a non-profit.
Today, the PACER Center is a national leader in advocating for disabled youth and preventing bullying. Paula led PACER with a deep belief that every child deserved every opportunity and a deep dedication to giving her team and her organization and the families she served her all.
She never missed an opportunity to lobby in DC for better legislation, raise money to provide more services, or rally anyone she met to support families in need.
Paula was a dedicated wife, mother, sister, friend, and grandmother. I never met her beloved husband Mel, but she shared love letters they wrote to each other with me. Their love and appreciation for each other at each stage of their relationship – when they were dating, first married, and then parenting together was so apparent and so beautiful.
Paula raised two truly remarkable sons – my late husband Dave Goldberg and Robert Goldberg. Both Dave and Rob learned from her how to be passionate about changing the world and dedicated to getting things done – and to be life-long Minnesota Vikings fans.
She shared all of those lessons with her five grandchildren and showered them with love. Paula suffered from two profound losses in her life, first her husband and then her son. Her bravery in the face of both was astounding. A few months after we lost Dave, she, Rob, and I were in his closet facing the surreal task of cleaning it out.
I turned to her with tears pouring down my face and asked her how she was possibly ok doing this for a son after doing it for a husband. She said to me and to Rob that while Mel and Dave were gone, she was alive – and she would keep on living, and we should too.
She said to me in that unthinkable moment that one day I would get married again and she would dance at my wedding. Paula will not be with us to dance at my wedding this summer. But her strength is part of how I was able to keep on living and find new love.
Her legacy lives on in PACER, in her son Robert and in her grandchildren. Together, today, we all mourn her loss and celebrate her life – and pledge to live every day as she did.