A group of fellow writers, artists and friends has launched an Indiegogo site for local artist Greg Correll, who is suffering from rapidly advancing Parkinson’s disease. The artist/writer/website creator has been working on a memoir with his daughter Molly, and has agent interest in the book. With his two younger daughters in college, he needs to continue to work to earn money; and with his disease and the dire effects that it has on his system, it has been taxing for him to finish the book.
The Indiegogo site, https://igg.me/p/225879?a=1236471, set up by many of his writer friends from Salon.com, is an attempt to raise money for Correll so that the longtime illustrator for the New Yorker can hire someone else to do his paying work and focus on finishing the book with his daughter before Parkinson’s makes it too difficult for him to continue.
The book is a unique father/daughter memoir that chronicles the artist’s struggles as a young man who was severely beaten by his father, abandoned by his mother and who left home at the age of 11 to escape the violence. The young hippie married and had a daughter, Molly. His first wife, who became mentally unstable, left him with their infant daughter and he had to raise her alone. Eventually his first wife committed suicide — something that still pains him: “If she had the pharmaceutical treatment we have now, she could have been saved.”
He took Molly to Paris, Colorado, desperately trying to find work as a young artist and single Dad. Eventually they made their way to New York City, where he was able to work as a graphic designer — for which he received a prestigious CLIO award. Molly became a child model and actress, but after a while decided that she did not want to pursue that any longer. “She had a tough time too, because she began to show genetic signs from her mother’s mental illness and went through a very difficult period, but survived it and came out much stronger,” recounted Correll. Molly is now the manager of an upscale hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Eventually Correll remarried and moved to New Paltz. He and Deborah Kaufman had two daughters together, one whom is at the University of Massachusetts and another is studying fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “We’re so blessed to have three wonderful girls. I always made it a point to tell them I loved them at least once a week, and tell them why!” said Correll.
While always an artist, he realized that he had an exceptional and rare talent for managing complex computer systems and programs and went on to start the business Small Packages, Inc., which has resulted in the engineering of the Yale University Climate Institute website and the New York State Veterinarians’ website, just to name two.
While raising their daughters, working on engineering complex websites and programs, writing for Salon and chapters for his memoir and living in a beautiful home on Guilford Schoolhouse Road in Gardiner, Correll’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. “It was a stressful time, as she had to undergo extensive treatments, was very ill and we were not adequately insured, so it put us into debt.” They lost their home to pay for treatments, downsized and moved to a smaller home in New Paltz. All the while, Correll was showing various physical and mental signs of something that area doctors kept saying were related to “stress,” due to the situation that he and his wife were facing.
“I’m happy to say she is now five years cancer-free!” said Correll, who amped up his Small Packages work to bring them out of debt, while his wife got a full-time job at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services. As things calmed down, his wife returned to good health and they became financially stabilized, Correll became plagued with odd twitches, lapses of memory and other “very odd things.” He was misdiagnosed time and time again, and the symptoms became increasingly worse.
“Finally my wife said, ‘This is it. We’re going to find out what is wrong. We’re going to Mount Sinai; we have insurance now.” Within 3 ½ hours of extensive testing, his doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center concluded that he had Parkinson’s disease, that it was rapidly progressing and that he’d had it for the past five years.
Although it was frustrating to learn that, had he been properly diagnosed, he could have been on precursor medication that may have slowed down the degenerating symptoms, Correll, a soft-spoken, lovely and über-talented man is not one to focus on what could have been. Michael J. Fox said that “Parkinson’s is like life condensed,” Correll paraphrased. “It gives you a focus that might have taken you 20 years to get, because time is limited.”
To that end, his writer friends, who include many accomplished area writers and artists, wanted to help him “buy some time” and finish his manuscript with his daughter. At the time of the interview, they had already raised $5,000 in the span of three days. “That’s so kind and so generous, and will buy me a week where I can pay someone else to do the things I normally do, and I can focus on finishing the book,” he said. “Molly writes her parts, I write mine, and I think that this is a unique and powerful literary piece.”
Just talking with Correll is a powerful experience, as his kindness, his love and his passion shine through, despite the terrible illness that he’s enduring. To provide support and/or to learn more about his writing, go to https://igg.me/p/225879?a=1236471.