Dr Julian Josey, who has been instrumental in providing care to cancer patients in the upstate, was recalled by his colleagues this week as someone of passion and dedication to those whom he served.
Josey died Monday after a long battle with cancer. He was 83 years old.
Josey was first diagnosed in May 2012 with myeloma – a form of blood cancer. Family and friends say the diagnosis didn’t slow him down as he remained active with the Spartanburg Regional Health System and took an active role in fundraising.
He started working at Spartanburg Medical Center in 1970 and helped found Gibbs Cancer Center in 1999.
Dr James Bearden, a hematologic oncologist at Gibbs Cancer Center and Research Institute, worked with Josey for 45 years. They met in 1976 at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and then decided to work together providing the best cancer care they could in the upstate.
“We had pretty good chemistry and decided to work together in radiation oncology and medical oncology,” Bearden said. “That wasn’t always the case in those years, as there was competition in those group specialties, but we decided that we could do a lot better if we worked together.”
An extrovert with a plan
Bearden described Josey as a persistent and outgoing person who had a vision for how best to make cancer patients comfortable during difficult times in their lives.
“He (Josey) always treated patients with their best interests in mind and always ended up with the best course of action for the patient,” Bearden said.
Over the years of working together, Bearden and Josey have become close friends, sharing life events together and laying the foundation for the Gibbs Cancer Center.
“He (Josey) knew people in Spartanburg and was good at fundraising and did the right things for patients and gave the hospital its full value with the funds raised,” Bearden said. “We didn’t do it ourselves, but we got the support of other clinicians in our community.”
David Church, Vice President of Oncology and Support Services for the Spartanburg Regional Health System, met Josey 20 years ago.
“To me he was definitely a mentor and a father figure,” Church said. “He had a vision for what this could be for cancer patient care in this area, including palliative care. He would tackle the boldest project he could think of.”
After Josey’s death, flowers were placed in the atriums of the Gibbs Cancer Center and the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health. There was also information placed on sites that highlighted Josey’s career.
Next Tuesday, a ceremony is scheduled for Spartanburg Regional Health System Associates to honor Josey’s life.
“I have received a lot of phone calls, texts, emails and community outreach to send condolences,” Church said. “He’s just loved with no other way to explain it and had a way about him that he could communicate to anyone at any level.”
Gibbs Cancer Center design aid
Josey has always been interested in the design of the Gibbs Cancer Center and other system facilities and wanted to ensure that the best facilities were available for cancer patients.
“He wanted to create a calm environment so that he didn’t feel like a medical environment,” Church said. “He wanted the design to lower the nerves, so he loved working with the architects, designers and master gardeners on all of these components and he knew how to put it all together.
The designs included adding gardens, fountains and lights to the centers to help provide a relaxing environment for patients and their families.
Construction update:Gibbs Cancer Center and Research Institute expansion completed; opens March 16
Josey especially liked the expansion of the Gibbs Cancer Center in Pelham to a 191,000 square foot facility in 2020.
“He loved the building process,” Church said. “A few years ago when we were building at Gibbs Cancer Center in Pelham we were doing tours and he never wanted to use a wheelchair. He put on a headset and when he got there he livened up and talked about the when we got closer to being ready he was sitting in the hall and talking about how it was going to help the patients . “
Josey loved spending time with his family taking trips to Montana where he loved to go fly fishing. Other interests included working in his garden.
Josey had the ability to “ think big ”
For Dr. John Harrill Jr., who is a radiologist, said that one of Josey’s most intriguing qualities was his compassion for others.
“We have been partners in the practice of radiology for many years and he was an important friend to me,” said Harrill. “He was a person I could bounce back from and I really appreciated his advice and guidance. We have become great friends and he will be sorely missed.”
Harrill said Josey had the ability to “think big” and was well respected in the medical community.
“He has done something unique for our community and we are able to receive the same cancer care that you receive in large centers,” said Harrill.
In 1956, Josey graduated from Spartanburg High School and entered Washington and Lee University in Virginia, according to the Spartanburg Regional Health System. Two years later he attended Wofford College, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree.
Josey graduated from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in 1964. In 1967 he enlisted in the US Army and was posted to the 3rd 9th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, according to the System Regional Health Center in Spartanburg.
He joined the radiation oncology practice at Spartanburg General Hospital in 1970 and helped start Spartanburg County Hospice with a three-year grant. In 2013, Josey received the Order of the Palmetto from Governor Nikki Haley.
A celebration of his life will be held Friday at 11 a.m. on the grounds of the Advent Episcopal Church, 141 Advent Street, followed by a reception in his garden at 150 Zimmerman Lake Road.