Posted on: February 2, 2021
Thomas “Tom” P. Foley, Jr., M.D., 83, Professor Emeritus of Pediatric Endocrinology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, passed away peacefully after battling Alzheimer’s Disease.
Tom grew up in Richmond Virginia, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1955. He earned his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University in 1959 and completed his Doctorate of Medicine at the University of Virginia in 1963. He began his post graduate work at University of Kansas, Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, and completed his Fellowship in 1971 at Johns Hopkins University. He additionally served as a Captain in the United States Air Force at the McCoy Air Force Base Hospital from 1966 to 1968.
Tom spent over 30 years as a clinician, researcher, and professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. From there, he led numerous research studies, and participated in over 250 published articles. Tom was a pioneer in establishing newborn screening tests to detect thyroid disorders that, through his tireless effort, became a standard test for all newborns both national and internationally.
His passion for helping and educating people extended across the globe. He provided advice and treatment for children exposed to radiation from the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 and became known as “TMI Tom.” When the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl occurred in 1986, he joined forces with Project Hope. This endeavor led to numerous trips to Europe to aid in the screening and treatment of thyroid deficiencies for children exposed to the radioactive fallout.
Tom received numerous honors and awards for his clinical research and humanitarian efforts including being selected for several years as The Best Doctors in America, nominated by a peer-review survey, and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award awarded by the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. His southern gentlemen charm and wholesome spirit greeted you with an enthusiastic “Howdy do.” He was a giant in pediatric endocrinology, and a loving husband and father.
In addition to his humanitarian work, Tom was an avid bluegrass musician, often whistling to his favorite bluegrass tunes. He played his prized 1943 Martin D-28 Guitar in his bluegrass band, The Allegheny River Boys. Formed in the mid ’70’s, the band performed at various music festivals and benefit concerts. When not playing Bluegrass, he could be found at the Symphony or Opera house, if he wasn’t already cheering on his beloved Pirates, Steelers or Penguins.
He is the son of the late Thomas P. Foley originally of Pineville, Kentucky and the late Roberta Taylor Foley, originally of Baltimore, Maryland. He is the brother to the late Suzanne Foley of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Survivors include his wife, Charlet Cullen Foley of Pittsburgh and State College, PA; Children: W. Cullen Van Brunt (Laura-Lee) of Toronto, Ontario, Teran Milligan (Ian) of Toronto, Ontario, and Thomas W. Foley (Christina) of State College, PA, and 10 grandchildren.
A future Celebration of Life service will take place this summer in Pittsburgh, pending Covid-19 restrictions.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the following organizations – The Division of Pediatric Endocrinology for Education of Endocrine Fellows at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, 4401 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Discovery Space of Central PA fostering childhood STEM education, 1224 N Atherton Street, State College, PA 16803.