In memoriam: Sue Brockway

Many in the hunger community are already aware of the passing last week of our colleague and dear friend, Sue Brockway.  While her death was no surprise, it leaves those who knew Sue with a deep sense of loss.  To those who received the news directly from me last week, I’ll apologize for using the same words here, but I hope they summarize Sue’s life and work here at Tyson for those who might not have known her.

In my life, I’ve never known anyone who fought so hard to live—not simply remain alive, but truly enjoy the days she had on earth.  Five years ago, Sue was diagnosed with her second round of cancer, and a local oncologist, known for buoying his patients with sometimes unrealistic optimism, told her, “I think we can get you three years…”   Sue outlived his most optimistic estimate by two years, enduring weekly chemo until a few weeks ago, and missing very little work until just short of a year ago.

Sue began her career at Tyson in our Joslin, Illinois plant, near her hometown of Davenport, Iowa, where she developed a deep respect for the people who make it possible for us to stay in business: the Team Members on the line and the managers who keep the plants running.  When she came to work in our corporate headquarters, she brought that respect, and always strived to maintain the trust and confidence of the people in Tyson communities around the country.

Sue was passionate about life.  When she came to Tyson ten years ago, she immediately became enthusiastically involved in hunger relief, eventually becoming the company’s most ardent advocate for the cause.  She played a defining role in helping us engage our own Team Members in hunger relief, establishing Tyson as an organization that didn’t just write the check, but was authentically engaged.  Her legacy in this area will remain, as this issue has become a part of our corporate culture.

Sue was fiercely dedicated to principles, and held fast to her beliefs, sometimes with a stubborn streak that made her hard to put up with (I now say that with a smile).   When she set her mind to doing something, you’d best not be standing in her path.

Sue leaves an enormous group of friends and family, from all over the country.   We’ll miss her laughter, her enthusiasm and her energy.  We’ll miss her determined passion.  But her indomitable spirit will remain, to inspire us to live every single day to its fullest, and love those around us.

If you wish to honor Sue’s memory, there’s nothing you could do that would please her more than making a donation in her name to your favorite hunger relief organization.