By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
Reeve, 44, was a relatively unknown singer and actress before her Superman husband suffered near-total paralysis after a horse-riding accident in 1995. The couple became ardent spinal-cord injury activists and Reeve lent his name to the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Short Hills, N.J.-based organization devoted to finding treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. Following his death in 2004, Dana Reeve became its chair.
By Tuesday afternoon, eulogies were widespread.
"The brightest light has gone out," said comedian Robin Williams. "We will forever celebrate her loving spirit."
Former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton described Reeve as "a model of tenacity and grace."
"Despite the adversity that she faced, Dana bravely met these challenges and was always an extremely devoted wife, mother and advocate," they said.
"On behalf of the entire board of directors and staff of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are extremely saddened by the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us," foundation president and CEO Kathy Lewis said in a statement. "The foundation extends our deepest condolences and sympathy to the entire Reeve and Morosini families.
"Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength and ceaseless courage that became her hallmark. Along with her husband, Christopher, she faced adversity with grace and determination, bringing hope to millions around the world."
The cruel irony of a Superman made virtually immobile was compounded when Dana Reeve, who didn't smoke, disclosed she had lung cancer in August, 10 months after her husband's death. But, in public at least, Reeve approached her illness with steely resolve.
"I learned a long time ago that life just isn't fair, so you have to stop expecting it to be," she said during a November foundation fundraiser in New York.
"I was married to a man who never gave up. It's harder than this, what he was facing every day." The family, which includes the couple's 13-year-old son, Will, and Christopher Reeve's two grown children, Matthew and Alexandra, lived in suburban Pound Ridge, N.Y.
"I thought that after everything that she had gone through with Chris that she would have time to smell the flowers and be in the sun," said Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. "But apparently that was not meant to be."