Persistence pays off

08/01/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online. By MATT MURPHY

LOWELL Dr. Eleanor Forsley Shalhoup dedicated her life to public health, as a nurse and as an educator at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

But according to friends and relatives, Shalhoup, who died Monday at the age of 76, never sacrificed the health of her personal relationships in her crusade for the common good.

"There are not enough words to describe what kind of person she was," said Victoria Hatem, Shalhoup's daughter. "She was devoted as a mother, as a grandmother, as a mother-in-law, and as a friend."

"We were all very proud of her," said Shalhoup's brother, Victor Forsley. "She was always a big sister, but she really did make her mark beyond the family, and made us all very, very proud of her."

"Her motto in life was 'persistence pays off,'" Hatem said. "And it did in her life. She lived through a lot of hardship and overcame it all."

Shalhoup ultimately lost her battle with lung cancer, but managed to hang on for 3 1/2 years after doctors told her she had three months to live. Hatem said that even during her illness, Shalhoup continued to give of herself.

"Even this past year when her health was failing her she called me every week to see how things were going and if I needed anything from her," said Father Leonard Faris, pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Cars lined Fletcher Street yesterday as about 200 people gathered at the church to, as Hatem said, celebrate Shalhoup's life rather than mourn her passing.

Father Ted Pulcini, a former pastor at St. George, spoke of the many roles Shalhoup played in her life caring mother and grandmother, career woman, teacher, friend.

Pulcini said Shalhoup encouraged him to return to school, and after he went through the "second chance" program at UMass Lowell, he started his graduate studies.

When Pulcini finally got tenure, Shalhoup was the second person he called, and she told him, "Good, now I'll leave you alone."

Hatem said Shalhoup's persistence paid off in her career at UMass Lowell, where she was dean of the College of Health professions.

"She has great feelings for other people," Bill Hogan, chancellor at UMass Lowell, said of Shalhoup. "She was one of the best administrators and most sensitive faculty members I've dealt with."

"(Shalhoup) grew up in the Acre section of (Lowell) and contributed a great deal back to the city," Hogan said. "She was very committed to service for the community and to public health."

Hatem expressed admiration for her mother's ability to balance her career with family, even after Shalhoup's husband, Victor, died when she was 35.

"As she put it, she should've written the book," Hatem said. "She did the single-mother career bit before anybody ever did it."

"(Shalhoup) passed on a lot of qualities of strength and things like that to me," Hatem said. "She loved people, was straightforward ... she was just everything."