(Washington, D.C.) – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) paid tribute to Brian Harvey, an asbestos victim and advocate, who died on July 22, 2005.

A Washington native, Mr. Harvey often joined Senator Murray at press conferences and hearings to support Murray's legislation to ban the use of asbestos.


More on Asbestos | Sign up to receive Asbestos Updates from Senator Murray


Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Mr. President, I rise today to honor Brian Harvey: a loving husband, father, grandfather, teacher, and advocate and a hero in the fight to protect Americans from deadly asbestos.

Anyone who's followed the debate over asbestos in Congress will immediately remember Brian for his booming voice, for the way he could capture the attention of every person in a packed Committee hearing room, and for his commitment to save lives and bring victims the justice they deserve.

This picture shows Brian doing what he did best, urging Congress to ban asbestos and protect victims. Brian Harvey is my hero. Mr. President, it is my sad duty to report to the Senate that Brian passed away on Friday, July 22nd. I want to extend my condolences to his entire family, including his wife Sue, daughter Valerie, stepchildren Ethan, Anne, and Amy, and his three grandchildren. But mostly, I want to share my thanks that Brian was given more time on this earth than many asbestos victims and that he used that time to help others.

I was very lucky to work with Brian over the past three years. We came together at an important time in both our lives and in the history of Congressional action on asbestos. In 2002, Brian was defying the odds in fighting mesothelioma and looking for a way to share his experience and help others. At the same time, I was one year into my effort in the Senate to ban asbestos. I was both surprised and horrified that asbestos was still being put in lots of commonly-used consumer products on purpose. In my research, I learned about the deadly toll of asbestos diseases and about the lack of prevention, research, and treatment. I wrote a bill to address those critical needs, and I was proud to have Brian Harvey at my side and at the podium as I introduced that bill in June 2002.

Brian Harvey is my hero because he never hesitated to stand up and speak truth to power. Whenever we had a hearing or a press conference, whenever Senators needed to understand the horror of asbestos diseases, whenever my legislation needed a little boost or a powerful push, Brian Harvey was the first person on a plane from Washington state to Washington, D.C.

Like so many asbestos victims, Brian was exposed to asbestos through no fault of his own. Brian grew up in Shelton, Washington, and like me he attended Washington State University. During his summers in college, Brian worked at a paper products mill in Shelton, Washington. There he was exposed to asbestos fibers. The damage of that exposure would not be revealed until three decades later.

In September 1999, Brian experienced shortness of breath and fatigue. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and the odds were stacked against him. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma who do not receive treatment die within eight months. Those who do receive treatment increase their life expectancy to an average of 18 months. Overall, a person’s chance of surviving five years is one in 20. Brian lived six years after being diagnosed. He was truly one in a million.

Brian Harvey was lucky in many ways. His disease was diagnosed early. He got experimental treatments at the University of Washington. He had skilled doctors and medical professionals. And, he had the support of family and many friends. Many asbestos victims are not that lucky. Brian recognized that and he used the time he was given to speak up for others whose lives and families have been torn apart by asbestos.

Brian Harvey is my hero because he didn't despair about his own personal challenges. Instead, he shared those challenges with all of us, helping us to understand the threat and to inspire change in our public policy. And he did it with an actor's presence and a deeply human and personal touch. Brian used to say that part of the left side of his body was made of Gore Tex and it was, but that didn't explain Brian's toughness or determination, that came solely from his heart.

Brian Harvey is my hero because he made a difference. He pushed the Congress to treat victims fairly and to ban asbestos. While that is still a work-in-progress, Brian's voice and passion echo as loudly today as they did that day three years ago when he stood beside me as we introduced the bill for the first time.

Brian Harvey is my hero because in the face of so many challenges that could have drained his energy, he found the strength inside to fight the good fight. Every time I stood up for asbestos victims, Brian Harvey was at my side. He was there on June 28th, 2002 when I first introduced my bill. He was by my side in June 2003 when we stood together to call for fairness for asbestos victims. On March 5, 2003, Brian testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. With his passion and power, he called for increased detection and fair compensation for asbestos victims. Three months later, on June 24, 2003, the Judiciary Committee included my ban in its reform bill. On March 25th, 2004 at a press conference to call for passage of my bill, Brian Harvey was there as well. So Mr. President, it's hard for me to picture the next hearing or press conference without Brian standing by my side. But, I will continue the fight.

When Brian and I met three years ago, the odds were against both of us. The medical odds were against Brian; every day was a triumph. And the legislative odds, the chance that we would pass a bill, were against both of us. We have made progress, but we're not there yet. I know that it will be harder without Brian's advocacy, but I also know that he has done so much to bring that goal within reach. I know that eventually we will ban asbestos; we will ensure victims are treated fairly; we will find new treatments for asbestos diseases; and we will protect future generations from this epidemic. And, when that day comes, we will have Brian Harvey to thank.

Again, I extend my thoughts and prayers to Brian's loving family and his many friends. Last week, when Brian was in the hospital, I spoke to his wife, Sue, and his daughter, Anne. Brian was not well enough for me to speak with him, but I talked to the nurse who was sitting at his bedside. I asked her to tell Brian something I've always wanted him to know: you are my hero.

Brian Harvey was given extra time on this planet to help other people, and that's exactly what he did. Mr. President, Brian Harvey will always be my hero.