Sue Brockway: A Champion is Called Home by Doug Montgomery
June 8, 2012
Doug Montgomery is the Managing Director of Corporate Partnerships at Feeding America. He worked closely with Sue Brockway at Tyson Foods prior to her recent passing away.
The news spread completely if not quickly throughout the domestic hunger-relief community. And none of us wanted to hear it or accept it. We had all just lost a very dear friend, and hunger had lost one of its most powerful adversaries with the passing of Sue Brockway.
I was assigned the Tyson relationship for Feeding America 4 years ago this month. I was actually very excited to take them on, having a deep knowledge of their operations from previous careers in the food industry. Their activity and advocacy in the hunger space was consistent, innovative and impactful, and I was anxious to meet the people behind the effort. We scheduled a meet and greet with Sue Brockway and Ed Nicholson and were only 10 minutes into the meeting when Sue began to tear into me for various things she felt we were doing wrong relative to the relationship and, more importantly, our recent approach to hunger relief. You see, Sue never let her ego or anyone else’s get in the way of effective service to those in search of food security. Ironically, I thank God for that day and specifically that meeting as it permanently altered my course in life.
What I have not shared up to this point is that Sue had been navigating the treacherous waters of cancer treatment for some time and her body had taken a beating. OK stay with me here…..chronic nausea, skin rashes, relentless allergy-like symptoms (with virtually no immune system remaining) and severe nightly insomnia. Are you tired yet? Do you think you would be going to work? Do you think if you did you might be a bit foggy? Do you think this might take a toll on your stamina or at the very least your energy level? Do you think you might feel just a bit sorry for yourself? All those things were going through my mind as I witnessed a passion I had not yet found, a commitment that was unwavering, a heart the size of Montana and energy I have never known even as a kid. My commitment to the cause had just been challenged and my own life’s bar had just been raised.
After the meeting Sue and I shared a gentle hug. I was in awe. I was in awe of how Ed managed Sue with the grace of a saint. I was in awe of how Sue poured all the energy she did have into her passion for the wellbeing of others rather than herself. Most of all I was in awe that she actually took the time to care about me and my fledgling battle with Leukemia after only a few hours of knowing her. After that time Sue and I shared many hours on the phone talking late night TV, our illnesses, our family and friends, our jobs and, thankfully, we talked about our faith. That is where we both found peace and comfort. It is a comfort to know hers was strong and more of a comfort to know that this true champion was simply … called home.
I hope this has helped provide a glimpse into this most amazing role model. But just in case you would like more, I am pasting what Sue put at the bottom of every one of her emails. I’m sure she would be honored for you to pass it on:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”