A lovely woman, a loyal friend, a superb doctor, mentor, teacher and researcher-these were just some of the words that Tim Turvey, chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery used to describe Susan Foy’s full and rich life. Turvey delivered a heartfelt eulogy to faculty, staff, students, colleagues and friends who gathered for a memorial service on Friday, July 25. Excerpts of the eulogy follow below.
Susan was an outgoing, engaging person who befriended many. She made people comfortable in her presence and always listened well. Her stature and athleticism allowed her to meet many interesting people. If Susan played basketball with as much intensity and dedication as she demonstrated while caring for patients she certainly deserved the recognition she was given. She was half of the “Susie and Susie” basketball legend, a name she and a co-player were given by the press when playing for the Canadian Women’s National Championship Basketball Team while at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.
Shortly after arriving in Chapel Hill she announced that she planned to compete in the pass and punt event at half-time during the annual UNC Blue and White spring football game. Cautioned that this might not be the image she was trying to build-woman surgeon vs woman athlete. She competed, won, and complained that the wide receiver was too slow and she couldn’t lead him as much as she wanted to. An article in the Sunday paper noted an amazing woman named Susan Turvey as the winner of the competition; her reputation secure.
The serious side of Susan enabled her to develop into a superb doctor. She demanded excellence of herself and never shied away from her heavy workload. No matter how complex the case, she never faltered or complained about the endless time, effort, and energy required. She was a technically accomplished surgeon, but more importantly, she was an exceptional care giver. Her personal approach and attitude put patients at ease, and they immediately understood that their treatment was her highest priority. No matter how much praise she received for her performance, Susan was constantly trying to improve. She wanted to do things better than perfect.
As a woman surgeon, Susan was a relatively rare commodity functioning in a traditional male profession. She was a great role model for other women dentists and physicians who aspire to a future in surgery. An exceptional and demanding teacher and mentor to students and residents, she also advanced her research skills with Dr. White and Zuniga that led her to pursue fellowship training at the University of Florida.
The world is a better place because of Dr. Susan Foy. The University of North Carolina benefited tremendously from her presence and influence and the University of Florida was about to benefit from her contributions. All of her patients, friends, family and her profession are enriched by her short life. Susan may be gone, but she is only a thought away.