Guysborough says goodbye to Dr. Anita Foley

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – Hundreds of people attended the funeral of Dr. Anita Foley in Guysborough on Friday, May 31 both at St. Ann's Roman Catholic church and at the Chedabucto Performance Centre, where the service was live-streamed. Many others followed the proceedings from across the world via the internet.

Father Callistus Abazie delivered a touching homily reflecting on the life and devotion of Dr. Foley to her faith, her community and her patients. He spoke of his introduction to Dr. Foley both in his roles as priest and as patient. While conveying a somber message about the inevitability of death, Abazie also asked those in attendance to remember Dr. Foley by emulating her legacy of generosity and in particular to do everything possible to improve the healthcare system in the province; an arena in which Dr. Foley was a tireless advocate.

During the service, hymns were sung by Ursula Ryan, Ed Avery and Pastor Clara Jordan. Readings and prayers were offered by Dr. Foley's siblings; Dr. Eileen Foley Biggs, Terry Foley, and Geraldine Bateman. Many of Dr. Foley's medical colleagues, past and present, served as honorary pall bearers, working in partnership with Dr. Foley one last time.

Following the church service an eulogy and reception was held in the Chedabucto Lifestyle Centre. The eulogy was delivered by Guysborough Memorial Hospital Foundation Chair Bill Innis, who has worked in tandem with Dr. Foley for many years to ensure healthcare services were maintained in Guysborough. He spoke of her devotion to the people of Guysborough and surrounding areas, highlighting that unquestioned attribute with the story of her on-call marathon: providing 24/7 coverage to the hospital for seven months when there was no other doctor in the community.

Innis also detailed the many honours that had been bestowed upon Dr. Foley over the years, noting that she was reluctant to accept any such recognition for, as she would have put it, 'doing her job.'

The naming of the Dr. Anita Foley Health Services Centre, said Innis, was most likely the honour Dr. Foley was most proud of, although even that took some convincing; she was not sure she was deserving of such an honour, although everyone who knew her had no doubt. The day of the grand opening in June of 2016, said Innis, was perhaps one of the happiest days of Dr. Foley's life and we were fortunate to have been there to share it with her.

Following Innis was Dr. Foley's sister Sheila McMullin who spoke about Dr. Foley in her role as family member: the big sister who bossed them around, the aunt who was proud of all her nieces and nephews accomplishments.

The final speaker was Dr. Foley's colleague and friend Palliative Care Consult Nurse Karen Hoben, who delivered an emotional song focused on the loss everyone felt upon the passing of Dr. Foley.

After the eulogy, those attending the reception shared stories about Dr. Foley amongst themselves and saved those anecdotes for the days ahead, to always keep this women, who has meant so much to this community, in their hearts, minds and actions.