Sally Furay, RSCJ

Sister Sally Furay

Birth: June 12, 1926
Profession: July 30 1952
Death: January 10, 2015

Religious of the Sacred Heart Sally Furay died on January 10, 2015, following a stroke. Known for her tireless work in the area of higher education, Sister Furay served at the University of San Diego for more than forty years. Her life will be celebrated with a wake service at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at Founders Chapel at the University of San Diego. The funeral Mass will take place on Friday, January 16, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. at The Immaculata on the campus of the University of San Diego. A Memorial Mass and the burial will take place 10:00 am Saturday, February 21 at Oakwood, followed by a sharing of memories.

Sally Marguerite Furay was born in Omaha, June 12, 1926, one of eight children of Guy Vincent and Marguerite Whyte Furay. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother Guy Vincent (Bud) Furay, Jr. who was killed in action during World War II, her sister Alice Furay, two brothers who died as infants, brother Conal Furay, and sister Mary Furay Lindsay. She is survived by her sister, Betsy Furay Winters and her husband Howard Seiselmeyer of San Diego, Jean Furay of Webster Groves, Missouri, and twenty-four nieces and nephews. She will be missed by her many colleagues and friends and her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Sister Furay entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1944 after graduating from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha the previous year. She made her first vows in 1947 and her final profession in 1952 in Rome. Her first assignment was at her alma mater, Duchesne Academy, while she earned her bachelor’s degree, in English, at Duchesne College, Omaha in 1949. This was followed by a Master’s Degree, also in English, from San Francisco College for Women (now a part of the University of San Francisco, then owned by the Society of the Sacred Heart). She earned her doctorate in English and American Literature from Stanford University in 1955.

Sister Furay’s long tenure at the University of San Diego began in 1954. She served as Academic Vice President and Provost for 25 years. She also taught courses in English and in law, held administrative roles as Dean of Arts and Sciences and department chair. Beginning in 1968, while Dean, she attended the University of San Diego School of Law in the evenings, earning her J.D. degree in 1972.

An ardent activist for equal rights, especially for women, she helped to implement into the law school curriculum courses in sex-based discrimination, including a course titled “Sexual Harassment and the Law,” which she taught from 1974 to 1992. In 1994, she established USD’s Trans-Border Institute (TBI), whose mission is to bring greater attention to issues related to the United States-Mexico border. To honor her work, TBI initiated the Sister Sally Furay Lecture to bring leading scholars to campus to discuss the ever-evolving complexities concerning the border.

Sister Furay may have retired from the University of San Diego in 1996 but that did not end her involvement with education. She participated on many boards and committees of regional, national and international organizations. She was the first woman president of the Western College Association, Board Chair of the National Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Vice President of the San Diego County Bar Association, President of the Board of Directors of the Old Globe Theatre, President of the Board of Governors of the San Diego Foundation, Chair of Senator Barbara Boxer’s Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee for the Southern District of California, and twelve years of service on higher education accrediting commissions. In addition to these professional, civic, legal and community roles, she also consulted extensively in helping to re-establish, beginning in 2002, the University of St. Thomas School of Law, located in downtown Minneapolis. In 2009 Sister Furay received an honorary degree from St. Thomas in honor of her many years of service both as a member of the Board of Trustees and acting associate dean of the law school.

Sister Furay’s academic service, while significant, is not the full extent of her impact. She also shared her time generously in a wide array of activities for the benefit of her community. For example, she helped to implement the University of San Diego-Old Globe master of fine arts theatre program, and she assisted in the creation of the Neighborhood National Bank, which provides banking services to San Diego’s under-served and economically challenged communities; she was still serving as director and secretary of the bank at the time of her death.

She served on numerous other boards, most especially the Legal Services Review Panel for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the California Student Aid Commission and the Sacramento-based EdFund, a national student loan agency.

From 1971 to 1975, she was a member of the provincial team for the former California Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart. More recently, she acted as consultant to the United States-Canada Province, the Network of Sacred Heart Schools through her service as a member of boards of trustees, and her international service to the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Sister Sally Furay’s honors and awards are too numerous to list, but include San Diego Woman of Achievement (1976), Governor of California’s Award of Merit for Achievement in Education and Women’s Rights (1979) and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Award (1989). In addition to the honorary degree award by St. Thomas University, she received honorary degrees from the University of Portland, University of San Diego, and the College of Santa Fe

Teacher, administrator, lawyer, colleague, friend – Sister Furay harmonized all of these roles in the service of her calling. As the citation for the Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Award from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities reads: “She is decisive without being judgmental, compassionate without being soft, gentle without lacking firmness. Her peers are impressed by her clear analytical legal mind and just as conscious of her ability to synthesize and harmonize.”

For tributes from the organizations served so faithfully by Sister Furay, we invite you to visit their websites by clicking on the names below: 

Sister Barbara Dawson's Eulogy

University of San Diego

St. Thomas University

Convent of the Sacred Heart, San Francisco

For an obituary from the San Diego Union Tribune.

The homily from her funeral Mass can be found on YouTube. You will need to turn up your volume!

The following tribute came from Jeff Chambers, who served on the board of Trustees of Sacred Heart Schools - Atherton with Sister Furay:

Sally was a spectacular person whose impact on our school can’t be overstated. She had the enviable ability to combine formidable intellect with just the right words at just the right time. Most importantly, Sally led the writing and approval of our current bylaws, which memorialize the RSCJ’s incredible generosity in preserving our right to operate on their land in perpetuity. This was a task that had been on the to-do list for years, perhaps decades. She waded through the complexities and sensitivities of this assignment with determination, love for our school and unfailing good humor.
I’ll always remember the new Trustee who joined the board with Sally and had to introduce himself right after she had done the same. As she humbly listed her credentials, summarized in the email below, I could see this poor fellow shrinking in his seat and wondering what he might say about himself. He wasn’t alone; we were all a bit star struck by Sally’s accomplishments and quiet but obvious brilliance.
We owe Sally our eternal gratitude.


Submitted by Margy (Lindsay) Ford on

I am so proud to be one of Sally's nieces. Sally is one of the reasons I attended Duchesne (Omaha) and now am a teacher there. She had that ability to push you to be your best self. She was a blessing to all of us and will be missed.

Submitted by Catie Winters on

My aunt Sr. Sally Furay was such an inspiration to me. She touched so many lives and her family couldn't be more proud. RIP my dear Sally. God has welcomed you into his kingdom!

Submitted by Susan Ross on

I was honored to serve with Sally on Manhattanville's Academic Affairs Committee of the Board for the last 5 years. This is a great loss to the college, the Society, and to academics. She was a wise woman!

Submitted by Elizabeth Bundt on

Sally was always a part of my life. I feel as though Heaven just got a bit brighter and we here on earth are a little dimmer for our loss. What Ann inspirational woman

Submitted by Catharine Henningsen on

I had the privilege of knowing Sally over many years. Her ferocious intelligence and great good heart cut straight to the core of anything we had under discussion. I loved her for her wit and her kindness and she will be very sorely missed. As we say so often in the Society, Sally 's entire being was "Honor and glory to God alone"! Rest in peace, my friend, and thank you for bringing your multitudinous gifts to our lives!

Submitted by Rosemary Master... on

Sister Furay was my freshman honors English teacher in the fall of 1966, and she became a lifelong friend and mentor to me and many other students who found her faith, her leadership, and her commitment to education an inspiration. She was articulate and visionary, and she always affirmed and supported me in my own career in interfaith efforts and advocacy on behalf of the marginalized. The best way to honor her life is for all of us who knew and loved her to renew our own commitment to to living out her legacy by living up to our God given potential throughout our lives.

Submitted by Catie Winters on

Wow, Rosemary. That is a great story and a part of my Aunt Sally that I did not know....she as a teacher. The laughter and not wanting to disappoint her....those are firm in my mind. haha! if it is okay with you, I wish to share your comment with my family. God Bless You!

Submitted by Lynn Anderson S... on

Forty-nine years ago, I met my college freshman English professor, a woman named Mother Sally Furay. There are things I do to this very day, because of who she was and because of how she interacted with her university students. Since graduation, I have probably only directly communicated with her a scant handful of times—yet her voice, her manner, her expectations, her laughter, her beliefs, resonate within me still. By extension, I have raised four children, five grandchildren, and taught thirty-seven years of students—and Mme. Furay’s hand has touched them all. And I am but one of her hundreds of students; thus her influence is exponential. She taught with rigor without ever using the term; she modeled excellence without ever claiming it as her own; she gave of her very best.

A few days ago, word went out—in e-mails, in alumnae news, on Facebook, wherever—that today’s Sr. Furay had suffered a stroke, and her family and community asked for prayers for recovery. A journalist classmate wrote me; I wrote another who still serves as an education mentor to new teachers . . . from one to another, we reached out to say ‘one of the best has fallen; hold her in your heart.’

It’s not as if Mme. Furay was aware that she was a lifetime force, no! She simply owned her classroom, and did her level best. I painfully remember a day when she was upset by how stilted our discussion of Milton’s Paradise Lost was. She halted class, and went from student to student, demanding how far we were in the chapter readings. Eeks. We were chagrined ever to disappoint her—and yet, frustration over faulty homework was just as real for a university professor as it is for us today. Teaching (like all that is important) does not have to be perfect to still be a powerful and wonderful calling.

When I think of Sally Furay, the immediate image is of her laughter—holding a Stanford doctorate in English, a demanding Department Head, a USD law degree, the post of University Provost—yet warm laughter is the vivid memory. May we do as well.

Submitted by Janet LaPlante on

I also was a Freshman English student of Sr. Furay in 1966. She was incredible. I remember sitting in class enchanted by how she spoke to us. I believe I am a writer today because of her influence. I also had to sit in her office after breaking a school rule and felt her disappointment in me. Later, she and I would just talk about our lives and my wish to leave school to be married. She was so smart and I was so proud of her becoming a lawyer. When I heard she had a stroke, I prayed that God would not let her linger without her intelligent thoughts. She would never have wanted that. We all have a very special friend in heaven and I am happy she is enjoying the visions we can only dream about.

Submitted by Catie Winters on

Lynn, again more stories of my Aunt Sally's teaching. (I meant to respond to you about her laughter and not wanting to disappoint her.) I will share your sentiment with my siblings and cousins.

Submitted by Barbara Hosaka on

I first met Sister Sally in 1963 when I attend USD, she taught a semester of Religion and scared me to death. I reconnected with her at Neighborhood National Bank in 2001 and had the privilege of working with her until 2014. She was smart, dedicated to her beliefs, a true champion of women and someone I will never forget. Heaven has a great addition in Sister Sally

Submitted by Roger Cazares on

I had the honor and privilege of serving with Sister Sally as co-founders of Neighborhood National Bank for 18 years. She would often say "just call me Sally" which I had a hard time doing out of respect for her. Her strong and consist voice for women and under represented will forever be doubt she will rest in, roger cazares

Submitted by Joan McGrath on

In the mid 60's I took several classes as I studied for an MA in English Literature. She was truly an inspired teacher. She opened up for me the richness of WORLD literature. I have a vivid memory of astonishment at her ability to make the 800 year old German ballad, The Song of the Nibelungs, fascinating! I have never forgotten it. I loved being of student of hers. She challenged our thinking and always seemed to love what she did.

Submitted by Conny Jamison on

I had the privilege of sharing a friendship with Sister Sally for over 15 years. We both served on the boards of Neighborhood National Bank, and of Ed Fund, a California State agency serving college students. On our many trips to Sacramento we would have long conversations about life, death and everything in between. Although we came from very different spiritual viewpoints, I learned so much from her. She was a mentor to me in many ways, and I will always carry her memory with me.

Submitted by Ginny Hamel on

Sally has been very special and very important in my life.Her steadfast friendship has influenced me deeply.Sally made herself completely available to me during two painful periods of discernment.Her openness and clarity,her prayerful responses and loving attentiveness altered the course of my life.
And she stuck by me ...
I am grateful that we have been able to be together and to catch up from time to time over the years.we were able to spend a day together in August.We just liked being with each other.We knew that this might be our last chat in this lifetime.we talked about that.No unfinished business between us.when we said our good byes as we always did,we just repeated," I love you" over and over until we were out of each other's hearing.
And so what was left between us was love.
Sally,I will miss your wise words of counsel and your tender ways.
But I am so happy that you were able to move out of this world so quickly.

Submitted by Sandy Cassell F... on

Sally –

In a few minutes, I’m leaving for the airport…destined for San Diego to celebrate your life well lived. It’s a difficult journey, somehow making real the news I have not wanted to accept.

I will so miss your physical presence…and like a selfish child, I want to remind God that 88 years just weren’t enough of Sally Furay for this needy world.

You made such a difference. Your giving of love reminds me of the loaves and fishes…
Legions came, you loved them all to their fill…and - still –there was love left over.

I’m holding fast to Paul’s wise words…that life doesn’t end, but changes. Indeed, you ran the race, fought the good fight, and now rejoice in the home your Father has prepared for you.

Your soul soars in the heights of celestial heavens…

Ride, Sally, Ride.

We love you.
Sandy and Jerry Farrell

Submitted by Tony Harvell on

I had the privilege of working under Sister Furay for about 5 years until she retired. I always had great respect for her. She modeled integrity, hard work, and her religious life. She was a formidable presence at USD, and even if you disagreed with her, you knew that she always had the best interests of USD in her heart. She made many civic contributions here in San Diego and was a great role model for women and for women religious. May she be welcomed into Paradise through the mercy of the Heart of Jesus.