SUSAN JANE HIGLEY BRAY, M.D., age 81, of Chestnut Hill, died peacefully on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Susan was the daughter of the late Margaret Snyder Higley and Joseph Brewster Higley. She was predeceased by her sister, Karen Lee Higley.
Loving mother of Brian (Michelle) of Fort Washington; Gavin (Franciska) of Siesta Key, FL; Tara Bray Dickman of Lansdale and Brendan (Courtney) of Frederick, MD and 14 grandchildren: Shannon, Connor, Liam and Aiden Bray; Dylan, Evin and Luke Bray; Marin, Logan, Nate and Isabella Dickman; Maddy, Lilly and Tyler Bray.
Devoted sister to Ellen Higley O’Neill (Kevin, deceased) and “Aunt Sue” to Molly O’Neill Emmi (Thomas); Megan O’Neill; Mark O’Neill (Susan) and their three children: Sarah, Hannah and Dermot.
Sue is also survived by numerous Higley, Wilson, Snyder, Harrison, Judge, Rothwell and Waters cousins. She was blessed with a large, wonderful family and many dear friends.
Born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, her family relocated back to Philadelphia, where her father was transferred, and settled in Mount Airy. Sue graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy and from Ursinus College. She worked several years in the pharmacology division of Smith, Kline & French Pharmaceuticals before entering medical school.
In 1970, Sue graduated from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania where hers was the last “all female class.” It is now Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP). While there, Sue decided that, upon death, she would donate her body to science and research so that others could learn from hers.
That selfless devotion to medicine remained throughout her life, and Sue was still practicing part-time until her heart illness progressed. She was Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Nephrology (Kidney and Dialysis), Bio-Ethics, Palliative and Hospice Care from the University of Pennsylvania. She founded the Palliative Program at Chestnut Hill Hospital which was named and dedicated to her. Sue was very happy, yet humbled, by the honor.
A strong supporter of “local business, community and civic events,” she was a member of Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill, Woodmere Art Museum, Chestnut Hill Conservancy (formerly Chestnut Hill Historical Society) and the Choir of Our Mother of Consolation Church. Sue served as Past-President and Board Member of several organizations. She especially enjoyed reading, music, theater, travel, skiing and scuba diving with her family. She was a fan of sports teams and, in particular, the Eagles.
The quotes below were made by Sue’s close friends and colleagues at the time of the Dedication of the Palliative Program:
John P. Scanlon, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Temple Health/Chestnut Hill Hospital, said, “Dr. Susan Bray is one of the giants in the history of Chestnut Hill Hospital. She has been a clinician, administrator, teacher and friend to many during her almost 50-year tenure at CHH. She was a trailblazer with regard to gender equity, being the first female ‘President of the Medical Staff’ in the late 1980’s. She was also the first female ‘Chief of the Department of Nephrology’ and I am proud to say that she is one of the physician leaders on whose shoulders I stand.”
Peter F. Fumo, MD, a former partner in her medical practice, said, “Susan was a pioneer in Nephrology, both as one of the first women and, also, as one of the first to set up and teach Self-Care Dialysis, which has had extraordinary outcomes. She is a remarkable physician, partner and human being. It has been my absolute pleasure to have known and worked with her these past 29 years.”
Donations in Susan’s memory may be made to: Keystone Hospice and Palliative Care, 8765 Stenton Avenue, Wyndmoor, PA 19038. Thank you from her family.