August 11, 2014

Farewell to Henry “Hank” Bertram Lizotte

Hank Lizotte

Tribute submitted by Dr James Markos, Respiratory Physician, Launceston General Hospital and Lung Foundation Australia State Chair, Tasmania

Lung Foundation Australia is saddened by the passing of one of its longstanding supporters, Hank Lizotte who passed away on 14 March 2014 after battling illness since 2011.

Hank and his seven children started the Breath of Life Music Festival in Tasmania. They did this as a legacy to Hank’s late wife and their mother, Theresa, who died in 2003 of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Theresa donated her lungs to medical research into lung disorders and Hank and his family believed that more work needed to be done to find cures for this devastating lung disorder. Hank and his son, Mike, approached the Lung Foundation in 2006 with the concept of a music festival, which they called Breath of Life, to promote awareness about IPF and to raise funds for research. The Lizotte family had extensive connections to leading musicians in Australia and partnered with the Lung Foundation to stage the first music festival in March 2008 in Devonport. The headline acts were Jimmy Barnes and Diesel (Mark Lizotte), who performed free of charge, as did all the numerous support acts during this 12 hour concert. A second festival was held in Devonport in 2010, this time with a star studded line up, thanks to Jimmy Barnes and his friends with complete volunteer support. In 2012, the event moved to Launceston and was staged by professional festival organisers, and it has now become an annual event.

The funds raised from these music festivals has established the Lizotte Family Research Award for Pulmonary Fibrosis (awarded to A/Prof Janette Burgess on 7 April 2014) and has contributed to the funding of the Australian IPF Registry, both under the direction of Lung Foundation Australia.

Hank and his family migrated to Australia in 1971 from the USA. He is survived by his seven children (Jeannine and Bruce in the USA, and Mike, Laura, Brian, Donna and Mark in Australia). The majority of the Lizotte family are talented musicians and it seems these skills have been passed on to the next generation!

Hank and Theresa have also left a great legacy behind for Lung Foundation Australia to continue working on unlocking the mysteries of this little-known chronic lung disease.