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UNICEF Pioneer Cynthia Wilstein Dies

September 14, 1998

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) _ Cynthia Reader Wilstein, a pioneer at UNICEF, author, television writer and producer, has died at 49 after struggling with breast cancer and crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

Wilstein, who launched programs as a communication officer for UNICEF in Nepal and at United Nations headquarters in the 1970s, recently co-authored a book on iodine deficiency, despite her illnesses.

She died Friday at Stanford University Medical Center.

Though unable to use her hands to write during the latter stages of her 18-year battle with arthritis, Wilstein also worked or wrote for the World Health Organization, the Beyond War Foundation, and the Hewlett-Packard Foundation, using voice recognition-equipped computers. She also was active in the Disability Task Force and local programs.

``Cynthia lived an amazingly full life, acting on her ideals and making a difference in the world for the better,″ said her husband, Associated Press national sports writer Steve Wilstein.

``She underwent 25 operations, yet refused to let arthritis defeat her. She packed more into 49 years than many others might in 98, and she did it with grace, humor and a sense of adventure that left people in awe,″ he said.

Wilstein, who received a master’s degree in communication from Stanford University in 1985 and was a 1970 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, began her career developing audio-visual programs for children. She later wrote and produced children’s shows for Connecticut Public Television in Hartford and the Appalachia Educational Laboratory.

``Cynthia was a beloved comrade in development communication for more than two decades,″ said Tulane professor Jack C. Ling, her co-author and UNICEF’s former director of information and communication. ``She did pioneering work for child welfare programs ranging from immunization campaigns to the control of iodine deficiency disorders. While she endured devastating diseases with dignity, stoicism and optimism, she carried on as a dutiful mother.″

Besides her husband, she is survived by their 18-year-old daughter, Tara.

A memorial service will be held Sept. 23 at the Stanford Memorial Church.

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