Stacey would have been 51 years old today

by Denise Wirth, Stacey’s sister

Stacey would have been 51 years old today.

She was born in Taiwan, and was adopted by two North American school teachers who were working in Guam. She became a U.S. citizen when she was in preschool, while living in Hawaii with her parents and sister. The family camped and traveled often, which fostered Stacey’s love of nature.

Political activism and civil rights were at the forefront of her upbringing. She campaigned to become the first girl on the boys’ soccer team in high school, and throughout her life loved athletics and the joy of competition. She became a political activist in college, and a leader in multicultural and LGBTQ+ communities.

Most people know her from her time as a rock climbing coach, a personal trainer, or through soccer, cycling, gymnastics, Scrabble, her fantastic Climb-a-thon, or badminton. She tried every sport with gusto, but she excelled at and found her calling in rock climbing.

Stacey climbing at Cragmont (Berkeley, California), on October 8, 2006.

Many other people knew Stacey as the devoted part-time mom to Timon the dog. Throughout all her adventures she reminded us all to set goals, set goals, set goals (!!!) and to keep pushing ourselves to do our best with a smile.

Stacey with Timon.

Stacey fought hard with her lung disease, LAM, before receiving a lung transplant in 2004 and making the most of her gift of life. She was blessed once with this gift that extended her life almost 14 years, but she passed away after waiting in vain for over three years for a second double lung transplant.

Laura, Stacey, Denise, fountain at Stanford Medical Center
Stacey with her mom Laura (left) and sister Denise (right) at the Stanford Medical Center on September 19, 2017.

Naturally, she chose to donate her tissues so others could benefit. Stacey was able to donate her corneas, heart valves, lower extremity bones, and skin tissue, and this will help at least eight people to live better lives. Her corneas will offer the gift of sight to two fortunate recipients who will now see life kindly through her eyes.

Stacey was an athlete, a political activist, and an inspiration to everyone she met. She is survived by so many friends everywhere – in the rock climbing community, the transplant games community, her Bryn Mawr sisterhood, her Oshkosh North High School friends, her network of athletes, her circle of transplant recipients, the many friends and volunteers from everywhere who supported her with donations of time and money and hot meals, and the homeless street people whom she always acknowledged with generosity and compassion. Her family, mother, sister, nieces, brother-in-law, aunts, cousins. . .grieve. We miss her every minute of every day, and her laughter is still in our ears.

Stacey with her mom Laura.

In celebration of her life and to honor her values of freedom, justice, and equality, the family asks that donations be made to the ACLU in Stacey Li Collver’s name: or search for ‘ACLU Memorial Gifts’.

Thank you all so much for being on this journey with Stacey. In her memory, ‘Climb Your Dreams’.

Remembering Stacey

by Alyssa U., friend of Stacey

My dearest Stacey… the world lost a bright light yesterday as you took your last breath. You came into our lives after your double lung transplant, a gift from another family who, despite losing a loved one, shared their own beloved family member to help give life to others. This selfless gift gave you an incredible 13.5 years of life, a life which you lived fully and filled with love, compassion, friendship, warmth, optimism, hope, and laughter.

Alyssa with Stacey. June 17, 2018

You showed incredible optimism and hope in the face of long odds, and grace and composure when it was clear those odds were not to be beaten. You are our family, and I’m honored and privileged that you’ve included us as a part of your journey since we met you, and especially grateful that you and your mom Laura and sister Denise allowed me and B to be with you during your transition over the last week and a half. And even in death, you continue to be selfless and generous, donating your own body so your skin, corneas, bone, and heart valves can help others.

I’m grateful for the friendship we’ve shared over the last 12 years. We met at the climbing gym, not too long after I joined. You taught me how to climb, how to hope, and how to laugh even when things were looking down.

I remember the first time you took me climbing outdoors at Cragmont Park, and how absolutely terrified I was of my inevitable fall and the pendulum swing, but how your encouragement and support turned it from something terrifying into a giggle-fest. You always had great beta for me (“Remember to use your legs”), and sometimes hilarious but not useful beta (“Tommy Caldwell only has 9 fingers!”).

Stacey climbing at Cragmont (Berkeley, California) in 2006.

You were the friend I could go to with a joke, the friend who would laugh riotously, even when my joke was corny and not very funny. We shared a lot of those giggles — over my bad jokes, and over whatever funny thing was happening in our lives. Sometimes over not-funny things happening in our lives, but you always found a way to find humor in the situation. I will miss your laugh so, so much.

You were fierce and competitive, but your competitiveness was matched by the most generous spirit, and you used that to help lift up and support those around you even as you sought to improve yourself. You were our Transplant Games badminton gold medalist, and you wore that medal proudly, even as you said goodbye.

You touched so many lives, among them the children you taught how to climb and play badminton and become better people, and also your friends in your transplant and climbing communities. Your warmth and spirit made you so accessible, and you have such a large community supporting you.

Even though you’re no longer in this world, you will always be a part of our hearts. Climb on, my sweet friend, and climb high. I’ll see you again soon.

#donatelife #organdonationsaveslives

Goodbye, Stacey

by Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, friend of Stacey

Goodbye to a sweet, kind, socially brilliant, positive, determined and gentle soul, Stacey Li Collver.

Stacey graced my life for 15 years. We met sitting around a table at a lung transplant support group. We hiked, biked, climbed, swam, did boot camp together, walked, competed, medalled and advocated for organ donation together.

She was Godmother to both my dogs and they received infinite love from Stacey over the years. She taught me to take life less seriously, to let go of negativity, to accept and be at peace with the present, to set goals and to be open to receiving support for friends.

We said goodbye last night when she was full of joy, life, energy, hope and love at my workplace, Mission Hospice House.

She said she lived a meaningful life because she loved her friends and her friends loved her. To pay it forward, Stacey donated her cornea and tissues to give sight and function to those in need.

I am touched and changed forever by knowing Stacey. After 3 1/2 years on the list for new lungs, no donor was found to fit her size. Please sign up to donate your organs.

I love you Stacey!

Stacey left us this morning

by Denise Wirth, Stacey’s sister

Dear Friends,

Stacey left us this morning. She died just after 9 a.m., after a wonderful, joyful day and evening.

It is hard to describe how much this last week has meant to her, and how she has treasured and valued the chance to connect with you all. Stacey loved you. Her heart was so good and so big, and she loved you. We are crying rivers and we are glad that she is not suffering.

Happy Birthday!!!

Hey Stacey! Just wanted to wish you a Happy, Happy Birthday!!!

We think of you often, and wish you the very best. Congratulations on reaching 40, and thank you for teaching us how to live.

Love, your Friends from sheclimbs.

Rock Climbing

Ciao Stacey!

Thanks for all of your guidance and tips re rock climbing. Lead climbing is awesome, but you’re correct in that it requires undivided attention and lots of practice! I’ll be climbing with Mario tonight at the gym – hope to see you there. Again, you’re my inspiration! Climb on!!

Libia Busalacchi

Rock Climbing!

Hi Stacey – Sorry to hear about Jenny’s accident — 50′ fall’? We all need to be so careful, and she’s in my prayers! Hopefully I’ll see you this week at the gym. In the meantime…climb on!

Libia Busalacchi

Greetings from Panama!

Hi Stacey! It’s great to read an update from you! I’m glad you recovered from the rejection and that your recent cough is nothing too serious.

Keep up the journaling 🙂
I may be a bad emailer, keeper-in-touch person, but I do reguarly check in and love to read your updates.


Hi Stacey!

Hi Stacey! Great meeting you at the gym, and thanks for the “She-Climbs” website! You’re truly an inspiration! I’ll be climbing tonight – hope to see you there. Climb on!!

Happy January

Hey Stacey
Congrats on your new job. I am sure you will do a great job with the kids, and you will just view all the running as good conditioning for climbing. I am so glad i was able to climb for you in the climb a thon. I had a great time climbing with Rob as well, even if he did climb too fast and make me blister from belaying so much!! I look forward to seeing you start on your 5’12s when i get over this stupid cold.
Perhaps you can give me a lead climbing refresher as well!
Have a great week