Furey, Michael Joseph

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Dr. Michael J. Furey, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, died on Sunday at LewisGale Hospital-Montgomery. He was 85 years old.

A faculty member for 35 years, Dr. Furey was a prominent contributor to the field of tribology. He published more than 100 scientific papers and held over 80 patents ànd his love for research was matched only by his passion for teaching and working with others. He traveled the world presenting his findings at various conferences (even learning Russian in order to give a lecture) and, in his trademark black beret, was frequently stopped for directions no matter what city he happened to be visiting. Whether collaborating with doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston or with scientists in Poland, Dr. Furey would always form firm friendships and find a last-minute concert or museum to enjoy.

Born in Olean, New York on January 29, 1929, he spent hours in the St. Bonaventure University library as a young boy; when the librarian discovered that he wasn’t even in high school, much less college, she issued him a special library card. He earned a perfect score on the Regents test and graduated from Rensselaer (RPI) in 1950 where he was a “Vintage Crow” – a charter brother of Alpha Chi Rho. He went on to earn an M.S. at the University of Rochester and, after 14 years at Esso Research, he returned to RPI for his PhD. Dr. Furey then received a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship in physics at the University of Cambridge, England and hislifelong love for England – and travel – began. Soon after, he accepted a position as professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. In retirement, he was active in the Montgomery Democrats and had numerous op-eds published in the Roanoke Times.

Throughout his long career, Dr. Furey was a dedicated teacher and advisor to hundreds of students. A former graduate student, Gus Molina, said that having Dr. Furey as his advisor was the turning point in his career and life and “taught me, by example, that the best human dimensions are not measured just in titles, positions or achievements, but in the gentle care for those who happen to share a path with us.” And as an equally committed family man, Dr. Furey never missed a piano recital or band concert. At the end of the day you could almost always find him sitting out in the backyard with Pat, his wife of 62 years, and a series of well-loved cats.

In addition to his wife, Patricia Monfredo, Dr. Furey will be remembered with love by his sister, Patricia Warters; his children, Michael (Heather), Pamela (Barry), and Kathleen; and his five grandchildren, Alanna, Moriah, Matthew, Logan, and Elspeth. The family will receive friends on Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McCoy Funeral Home 150 Country Club Dr. SW, Blacksburg. Funeral services will be held on Friday, September 26th at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1205 Old Mill Road in Blacksburg, Virginia with interment to follow.