SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman who pushed for anti-bullying laws after her 11-year-old son committed suicide has died following a battle with cancer. Sirdeaner Walker was 51.
Walker's son, Carl Walker-Hoover, hanged himself at his Springfield, Massachusetts, home in 2009. Walker said he had been tormented by his classmates.
After her son's death she became an outspoken advocate for anti-bullying measures.
In 2010, then-Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that required all school districts in the state to develop programs to reduce bullying. The law also made cyberbullying a crime.
Lawmakers said Carl Walker-Hoover's death, and the suicide of a 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, who killed herself after allegedly being bullied at South Hadley High School, provided the impetus for passage of the law.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said his thoughts and prayers were with Walker's family.
"A strong woman of faith, she took the devastating loss of her beloved son Carl and led the charge in rallying all of us in proactively creating laws, programs and scholarships to combat bullying," Sarno, a Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday.
"May God rest her soul — she is now with Carl and his million dollar smile," he added.
In addition to her work on the state law, Walker also testified before Congress in support of national anti-bullying legislation and participated in a White House conference on bullying.
During that event, President Barack Obama praised Walker for her advocacy and noted that he had once endured school-yard harassment because of his large ears and unusual name.
A scholarship foundation later was named for Carl Walker-Hoover.
Funeral arrangements for Walker were pending.