Dr. Joseph George Furey, MD passed away peacefully Sunday morning December 1, 2019 with his family at his side. Over his 96 years, he lived life to its absolute fullest and was loved and admired by all that knew him. As a husband, father, physician, and friend, he was respected and revered by countless individuals he came to know and whose lives he touched.
George was born October 20, 1923 in Freeport, New York to Clement and Helen Furey. Raised in West Orange, New Jersey in a home with an emphasis on love, hard work, respect, and high achievement, he was blessed at a young age with the strong foundations for his success later in life. At West Orange High School, he had an outstanding academic record and was a three sport star in football, basketball, and track. Propelled by his parents' emphasis on higher education and with his intelligence and scholarly achievements, George went on to matriculate at Colgate University. At Colgate, he continued his academic and athletic excellence, graduating with honors in three years and winning Varsity Letters in Cross Country and Track. Based on his strong character, superb intellect, and great undergraduate achievements, he was admitted to Columbia School of Medicine in New York City. While in Medical School, fate smiled upon George when he met Loretta Boyan, who was a nursing student at Columbia Presbyterian School of Nursing. Loretta, a New Jersey native, was a beautiful young woman with a caring nature and lovely disposition. Kindred spirits, George and Loretta were married on June 12, 1948 and embarked on a lifetime of love, happiness, and family. George served a surgical internship at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital followed by a Residency in Orthopedic Surgery at the renowned Hospital for Special Surgery which at that time and is still today widely recognized as one of the nation's foremost Orthopedic Training Programs. After completion of his residency, Dr. Furey spent three years in the United States Army Medical Corp as Chief Orthopedic Officer at The US ARMY 34th General Hospital in La-Chapelle-St. Mesmin, France. Rising to the rank of Captain, Dr. Furey provided expert, state of the art care for severely injured soldiers wounded in the Korean War. Upon completion of his active duty service in France, George and Loretta and their young family returned to the United States. With his skills and experiences gathered from residency and military service, Dr. Furey was widely sought after nationally as an orthopedic surgeon. He chose to settle in Cleveland, Ohio and join the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals at the request of the legendary Dr. Charles Herndon. He served with distinction at both University Hospitals and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Parma caring for both children and adults with orthopedic problems. After a 5 year career in academic medicine, Dr. Furey began a private practice in Euclid and Willoughby that would grow in to one of the most respected orthopedic practices in the region. For young surgeons with growing families, it is a great challenge to be equally dedicated to one's family and one's patients. Dr. Furey was unique in his ability to be successful as both a family man and a physician. His work ethic, dedication, integrity, and desire for success never wavered and he was renowned for excellence as a father and a family man, with neither role suffering at the expense of the other. Practicing primarily at Euclid General Hospital and the Lake County Hospitals, Dr. Furey built a reputation as a kind, compassionate physician, a skillful diagnostician, and a superb technical surgeon. To this day, his former patients and families still recall him as a wonderful doctor and skilled surgeon. His bedside manner was unhurried and marked by a calm, unassuming nature that fostered reassurance and confidence in his patients and their families. His nursing and physician colleagues, to a person, would speak of his unwavering kindness, compassion and professionalism.
George and Loretta raised their family in the Cleveland suburb of Pepper Pike, setting down roots that would last a lifetime. Displaying a similar love of Northern Ohio, each of their six children chose to live in Cleveland and raise their own families here. George and Loretta were both known for their great sense of humor and a desire to enjoy life to its fullest. The fondest memories of their children and grandchildren are of times together at home on weekends and Holidays or on summer vacations at Lake George in the Adirondacks or ski trips out west. Memories of these times together always generate a smile or laugh and a comforting feeling of reassurance.
Sports and exercise were always a major focus of George's life. Always an avid tennis player, it was after he turned fifty that skiing and distance running really captured his attention. On the ski slopes, he displayed the same drive that he did elsewhere in his life, always the first one on the slopes and the last one off. As a distance runner in his sixties, he recaptured his glory days of high school and college, amassing numerous trophies as an age group champion in local 10K races. Not surprisingly, for George, retirement from medical practice came grudgingly. His love of patient care and orthopedics, along with his resolute work ethic and great health, allowed him to continue working well in to his seventies. Upon retiring however, he found new pursuits and passion including traveling and golf. Despite essentially not having picked up a club for forty years, he became a skilled golfer with a penchant for playing 5 days a week, rain or shine. As a golfer, he displayed a good short game, as well as an even temperament and tolerance of bad shots, an outlook that was not always similar shared by his sons and sons-in-laws.
In his mid-eighties, George developed Parkinson's Disease, which gradually robbed him of the ability to walk. While he accepted his physical limitations, he never displayed lament or self-pity. Rather, he continued to live life to its fullest, with his trademark pleasant and upbeat manner. He was always enjoyable to be around and forever interested in the lives of his children and grandchildren.
George was preceded in death by his wife Loretta, with whom he shared 63 years of marriage. They lived a life of great love and raised 6 healthy and happy children and had 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. As a couple, they were uniformly loved and respected for their friendliness, compassion, warmth, integrity, and strength of character. As individuals, both were down to earth, sincere, kind, with easy and fun senses of humor, who were friendly and approachable to all they knew and met. George was also preceded in passing by his older brother, Dr. Clement Furey (Marty). George and Loretta are survived by their children, Dr. Erin Furey (Susan Kane-Furey) of Russell, Sharon Furey-Stilson (David Stilson) of University Heights, Nancy Furey (Robert Sadowski) of Shaker Heights, Timothy Furey (Polly Furey) of Rocky River, Bonnie Furey-Boehnlein (Thomas Boehnlein) of Euclid, and Dr. Christopher Furey (Meg Walsh Furey) of Shaker Heights. They are survived by 10 grandchildren, Lissa Furey, Krista Furey, Kelley Witkopp (Rick), Melanie Bauer (Joseph), Gregory Sadowski (Sara), Kathleen Sadowski, Liam Stilson, Daniel Stilson, George Furey, Eamonn Furey and 3 great grandchildren, Abigail, Amelia, and Ainsley Witkopp.
To those who knew him well or those who knew him only casually, To those who knew him as a friend, as a professional colleague, or as a patient, To those who knew him when he was younger or later in his life, Dr. George Furey was known as a kind, caring, unassuming, highly successful, family man … a true gentleman … a superb physician … a man whose memory leaves us with a warm and happy feeling.
Interment All Souls Cemetery. Mass of Christian Burial 10am Saturday at Saint Francis of Assisi Church, 6850 Mayfield Road, Gates Mills. Friends may call at MAHER-MELBOURNE FUNERAL HOME, 5236 MAYFIELD RD, LYNDHURST (E OF RICHMOND RD) ON SATURDAY FROM 9-9:30 AM.
A Celebration of Dr. Furey's Life will be held for all his friends and patients on Saturday December 7, 2019 from 2:00-5:00pm at 18900 South Woodland Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122.
In lieu of flowers, The Furey Family asks anyone inclined to offer a donation in his name to United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106 (www.ucpcleveland.org) or the Judson Foundation, 2181 Ambleside Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106 (www.judsonsmartliving.org).