In memoriam: Andrew Fourney, DrPH

Andrew Fourney - alumnus - DrPH 1999 - photo to go with In Memoriam article
Andrew Fourney, DrPH, MPH

Alumnus, ’99, UTHealth School of Public Health

HOUSTON – Andrew Fourney, DrPH, ’99, unexpectedly passed away from an accidental fall at the age 57 while working in Ethiopia. He had been working as a learning coordinator with USAID in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning in the Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research.

While at UTHealth School of Public Health, Fourney began as an MPH student studying international and family health with then faculty member Irina Cech, PhD, and later petitioned to become a DrPH candidate in health promotion with Steven Kelder, PhD, as his advisor. His dissertation was titled, “Adherence to HIV/AIDS therapies among low-literacy populations: the ALP project.”

School of Public Health colleagues and mentors remember him affectionately during his time at the School of Public Health.

Upon receiving the news, Mary Ann Smith, PhD, assistant dean of students, said, “Public health and Andrew’s family have lost a bright light.” She remembers that he had a “kind demeanor and quick smile.”

Current faculty members Paige Padgett Wermuth, PhD, MPH, and Andrew Springer, DrPH, MPH, who were also classmates of Fourney’s at the School of Public Health in the late 1990s, remember him warmheartedly.

“During an SPH winter break, Andrew and I traveled to Nepal for a classmate’s wedding and we trekked to the same altitude as Mount Everest base camp to see a glacier,” recalls Wermuth. “Our toothpaste froze; we played cards every night, and taught everyone the words to Don Mclean’s American Pie. He was a really positive, fun force at SPH and beyond.”

Springer says he first connected with him because they had mutual interests in global health. He says Fourney had a passion for learning about and valuing other cultures, while both working abroad and exploring new foods and languages while living in Texas.

“While Andrew always took his public health work and studies seriously, there was always a smile just beneath that professional exterior that was contagious,” says Springer. “Sometimes I would just have to do a double-take looking at him, and I would see that smile emerging. I would say, ‘What’s so funny?’ and sure enough, that smile and laughter would surface and we would both have a great laugh.”

He adds that the two would play Frisbee golf and spend time with friends together. “We truly practiced what we preach in public health, whether eating more fruit and vegetables, biking, or hanging in some crazy inverted position while practicing yoga in his apartment.”

Fourney was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia and lived his life in Ravenswood on the Fourney Farm until beginning his undergraduate education at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He earned a BA there in sociology and anthropology/philosophy. He was preceded in death by his father, Phil; his brothers, Ed, Conrad and Todd. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Fine; his mother, Betty Jean; his brother, Paul; his sister, Martha and her husband, Davy Catlett; his children, Kaylyn and Casey Catlett.

Fourney had more than 20 years of experience building monitoring and evaluation (M&E) capacity and systems. According to communications from USAID, Fourney’s strengths included developing M&E capacity at the organizational/project level, developing processes to capture data, and using data to refine practices. He was an experienced facilitator and managed M&E projects addressing HIV/AIDS, nutrition education, economic growth, and democracy and governance, among others. Beginning his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, he since worked in the State of California as well as Armenia, Angola, Ethiopia, Namibia and Rwanda. In addition to his DrPH degree from UTHealth School of Public Health, he held an MA in rural development from the Austral University of Chile. He was fluent in English and Spanish. His passion for exploring foreign cultures brought him to USAID.

To read his obituary and memorial service details, visit the Charleston Gazette-Mail website here.

— Written by Shannon LaDuke, with parts adapted from the Gazette-Mail and communications from USAID.