Honoring John W. Walsh’s Alpha-1 Legacy

March 20, 2017

John W. Walsh, whose vision of a research foundation and a patient services organization for people with Alpha–1 Antitrypsin Deficiency led to today’s highly successful and influential Alpha–1 Foundation and AlphaNet, passed away surrounded by his loving family on Tuesday, March 7.

Condolences may be sent to:
Walsh Family
c/o Alpha-1 Foundation
3300 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Walsh led the Foundation as president and CEO for more than 20 years, and under his leadership the organization became internationally recognized for its commitment to people affected by Alpha–1 and driving for the cure by investing over $65 million in research and programs worldwide.

Walsh was injured in a fall on an icy street in Washington, DC, in January 2016 and has not been playing an active role in the Foundation’s management. At its February 2017 meeting, the Board of Directors named him a Director Emeritus of the Board.

“With his incredible vision and tireless work ethic, John created a truly remarkable organization dedicated to curing Alpha–1 and caring for those affected by Alpha–1,” said Foundation Board Chair Gordon Cadwgan.

“I first met John in the mid–1990s at a national conference when the Alpha–1 Foundation was just an idea in his head. I saw the value of such an organization but thought the barriers were insurmountable. When I was invited to join the Board in 2004, I marveled at how far John had brought the Foundation. It had a dedicated professional staff, was well funded, was investing large sums of money in research and was recognized by its researchers, academia, government, industry and other rare disease organizations as a world leader. That was more than 10 years ago and the Foundation has gotten bigger and better since then. All of us owe John so much. We will miss him terribly!” Cadwgan added.

“John W. Walsh was one of the first Alphas I met when I was diagnosed in 1997,” said Henry R. Moehring the Foundation’s current president and CEO and Walsh’s successor. “John’s passion for and commitment to finding the cure for Alpha–1 was evident then and has remained steadfast ever since I have known him. John touched the lives of so many with his vision and drive to build the Foundation and AlphaNet. He worked tirelessly to develop better detection methods, to advance awareness with healthcare professionals, to advocate for our community, and to make sure that the brightest minds were working on the cure and had the resources they needed for success. He was my friend and I miss him greatly.”

Ab Rees, a member of the boards of the Foundation, AlphaNet and The Alpha–1 Project as well as a former chair of both the Foundation and AlphaNet, summed up his feelings:

“John has been our leader, our friend, our champion and our guiding light, striving for the cure for Alphas all over the world forever. We will achieve his vision for him. He leaves a big hole in our hearts.”

The team at Global Genes would like to thank John Walsh for his impassioned work with Alpha-1 Foundation. It takes leaders like him to create safe havens for patients to learn, connect, and ultimately bring forth treatments and cures. He will be remembered fondly and we will continue to support the work and success of his organization. 

Learn more about Walsh’s journey here. 

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