Remembering Sally Lehr

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | May 19, 2017

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Dear Emory community, 

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has lost a beloved friend with the recent passing of Dr. Sally Lehr, 65BSN 76MN. As a nurse, professor, alumna, leader, mentor, and colleague, she has left an indelible mark on the school and the lives of thousands of students and faculty. 

Dr. Lehr knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse and that she wanted to pursue her passion at the School of Nursing. In fact, she never applied anywhere else. Her unwavering commitment to the school remained throughout her baccalaureate and master’s nursing student experience and her tenure as faculty. She joined the faculty in 1979, and has given so much in so many ways to support this program that she loved so much.  We owe a great debt of gratitude for her service that has helped us become the nationally-renowned nursing institution that we are today. 

In the mid-1970s, she helped reorganize the Nurses Alumni Association Board and held many leadership positions within the organization, including four terms as board president.  In 2009, she received Emory’s Turman award recognizing her service to Emory.  She was a founding member of Emory’s chapter of the honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau, and served as President and Graduate/Nurse Leader Counselor of the school’s Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. For the past 10 years she chaired the Chapter's Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and for 7 of those years, the Chapter has received an award for the most funds raised by a school team. She was also the co-chair for Emory’s employee giving program, MyEmory. She led the Admissions Committee through a period of transition and significant growth. For 20 years, she chaired the Virginia Lee Franklin Conference Committee, bringing together nurse leaders in geriatrics, psychiatry, and neuroscience throughout the region to advance research, education, and practice. Under her leadership, the conference drew hundreds of clinician participants. 

Despite the many demands on her time, Sally’s warm, smiling, and encouraging spirit never dampened. Graduates of the Class of 2017 recently honored Dr. Lehr with the Heart of the Students Award. I would go further by saying that for nearly 60 years, Dr. Lehr was the heart of our school, representing the highest levels of leadership, compassion, service, and integrity which we all aspire to live by in our daily lives. 

Her dedication and commitment to excellence will live on through the many faculty, students, and staff she inspired. She will be greatly missed. On behalf of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing community, I offer my deepest sympathies and support to her family, especially her husband, Ralph Lehr, and her daughters, Carolyn Facteau, Allison Weatherspoon, and Elizabeth Ridenour; friends; students; and colleagues as we search for healing during this difficult time. 

Services for Dr. Lehr will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 26th at Kingswood United Methodist Church, 4896 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Sally T. Lehr Scholarship to benefit students interested in psychiatric-mental health or human sexuality at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. You can give online or make checks out to Emory University @ NHWSN; Emory University; 1520 Clifton Road, Suite 446; Atlanta, GA 30322; Re: Sally T. Lehr scholarship Fund.

Please contact Amy Dorrill, Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations at the School of Nursing, directly at 404-727-6264 if you have any questions.

With deepest sympathies, 
Linda McCauley