05/10/2015 09:35 EDT | Updated 05/10/2016 05:59 EDT

Toronto Star reporter Barbara Turnbull dies at age 50

TORONTO - Toronto Star reporter Barbara Turnbull, a quadriplegic who became a champion of disability rights and organ donation, has died.

The Star reports that Turnbull died Sunday afternoon from complications related to pneumonia. She was 50.

Turnbull became a quadriplegic after being shot in the neck in 1983 during a robbery at a convenience store where she worked.

She went on to graduate with honours from the journalism program at Arizona State University in 1990 — as class valedictorian.

Turnbull started working for the Star in the early 90s, and was remembered fondly by colleagues including former managing editor Mary Deanne Shears, who hired her.

"She was smart and feisty and kind and determined to make every day and every assignment count," Shears said in the Star's report on Turnbull's death. "I shall miss her so much.”