Student Joseph J. Feeley III dies
9:05 a.m., April 19, 2012--Joseph J. Feeley III, 23, died on Feb. 27, surrounded by his family after fighting a rare bone cancer for 2 1/2 years.
Mr. Feeley was an exercise science major at the University of Delaware who planned to study for a doctorate in physical therapy at UD.
JoAnn Ciuffetelli, academic support specialist in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, advised Mr. Feeley and said that in her 22-year career of interacting with students he was one of the few who "left an indelible mark on my life."
Ciuffetelli recalled, "I met Joseph and his mother in the January 2011 session of New Student Orientation. At that time, Joseph had been battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for a year, and yet his positive attitude, plans for his future and smile are, thankfully, a permanent memory for me.
"Joseph did attend classes on campus until the disease progressed and impeded his ability to attend class. Determined to continue his studies, Joseph opted to earn his credits through online courses," she said. "His resolve to earn his degree was non-negotiable and, quite honestly, remarkable to me. Joseph was not only a member of the National Academic Honor Society; he was a stellar athlete excelling in soccer, golf and baseball to name only a few of the sports he mastered.
Calling him "a young man with immeasurable faith and an attitude of such positivity," Ciuffetelli said, "Even battling his illness; he never failed to lift my spirits when we spoke. I stayed in frequent contact with Joseph and his mother, and never once did he complain of his pain or his circumstance. He never expressed anger and radiated a remarkably positive attitude.
"It is a distinction of my career to have met Joseph, to advise him and to have his memory as part of my life. He is a young man who conducted himself with integrity, generosity, genuine respect for others and an extraordinary role model. Joseph is a person who had met many people, through a variety of his life experiences. I am grateful I am one of those people," she said.
Mr. Feeley attended Tall Oaks Classical School and Red Lion Christian Academy, graduating with honors in 2007. He received the Megan Stave Christian Athlete Scholarship Award. A member of the National Honor Society, he was active in drama productions, Science Olympiad, student government, and church and community activities.
He competed at the National and Junior Olympic levels in cross country during middle school and ran in the Foot Locker Regional Championships in high school. He was awarded All-State Honors in cross country in grades nine through 12, as well as All-State Honors in baseball his junior and senior years. He also earned varsity letters in track, soccer and one year of wrestling.
Despite countless running scholarship offers, Mr. Feeley opted to pursue his first love, baseball, in college. His high school baseball career culminated in signing for a Division 1 baseball scholarship with Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
For two years, he attended Liberty University, where he played baseball and worked toward his degree in kinesiology/biomedical engineering. He earned several academic honors, including Dean's list and the Big South Presidential Academic Award. Despite the renewal of his scholarship for his junior year, he opted to transfer to Frostburg State University where he was guaranteed a permanent position in center field.
Escalating pain led to the diagnosis of Ewings sarcoma in January of 2010, followed by chemotherapy and integrative modalities.
After a year of treatments, Mr. Feeley felt well enough to resume his collegiate goals with the goal of earning a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Delaware. He maintained a 4.0 GPA until his cancer dictated his medical withdrawal.
When cancer treatments prevented him from continuing with sports, he began to develop other hobbies, including photography, drawing, target shooting, piano playing and composition. He was active in many activities in support of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, including piano performances at the telethon for two consecutive years, speaking and playing at golf outings and other fundraising events. He was excited to have the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at Delaware Blue Rocks and Phillies games.
His photography may be seen online.
Mr. Feeley is survived by his parents, Joseph and Karen Feeley, his sister, Jillian; his girlfriend and intended, Janie Sikes; his grandparents, Joseph Feeley Sr. and Ronald and Ellen Fields, and many aunts, uncles and cousins who were an integral part of his support system. He was preceded in death by his grandmother, Geraldine M. Feeley.
A celebration of his life was held March 5 at Glasgow Church in Bear, Del.
Donations in Mr. Feeley's memory may be made to Kay's Kamp, a medically supervised summer camp for children with cancer. Held annually on the grounds of St. Andrews School, the camp was started by the parents of Kaylyn Warren, who battled acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Ms. Warren and Mr. Feeley were friends and attended Red Lion Christian Academy together, where she graduated a year ahead of him. Donations may be sent to "Kay's Kamp," KEWF, 560 Peoples Plaza, Box 111, Newark, DE 19702.
To leave online condolences, visit the Strano and Feeley Family Funeral Home website.