Sally Tyler Tyler Lehr

August 27, 1942May 17, 2017

Sally O’Neill Tyler Lehr was born on August, 27, 1942, in New Orleans, LA, to Madeline O’Neill Moorman Tyler and Thomas Bennett Tyler. She died on May 17, 2017, in Atlanta, GA.

Sally spent her early years in New Orleans and Shreveport, LA, and lived for a time on Tinian, the site from which the atomic bomb was flown, where her father was stationed during and after WWII. She called her true childhood home Kingsport, Tennessee, where she lived briefly during elementary school and then returned as a sixth grader. She attended Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport and graduated in 1960. She was a cheerleader and voted Best All Around in her class. She always had a special place in her heart for Kingsport and Dobyns-Bennett, speaking often of her fond memories and life-long friends. She never missed a class reunion or an opportunity to return for a visit.

Sally entered Emory University as a freshman in the Fall of 1960, majoring in nursing. Following her dad’s advice to go to “a school you can be proud of,” she only applied to Emory. Sally pledged Delta Delta Delta sorority and quickly developed what was to become a lifelong passion for her beloved Emory University. Over the next 57 years, Sally was a student, graduate student, staff nurse, instructor, or professor at Emory University, teaching her last classes at the Nell Hodgsen Woodruff School of Nursing in Spring of 2017. She received her BS from Emory in 1965 and her MN in 1976.

In the spring of 1963 Sally met the love of her life, Ralph Lehr, a Chemistry and Pre-Dentistry major from Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Like a storybook story, Ralph was President of Sigma Chi, and Sally was the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. While their limited budget meant their dates included a tour of the local fire station and dinner at McDonalds, their love grew strong, and they were pinned in the Spring of 1964. Sally and Ralph married on August 14, 1965, at Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. After Ralph finished dental school at Emory, he enlisted in the U.S. Airforce, and the two lived in San Antonio, Texas for two years. Ralph was stationed at Lackland Airforce Base, and Sally worked as a nurse at Bexar County Hospital. They returned to Dunwoody, Georgia, in 1971, where Sally has lived since.

Sally had three daughters, Carolyn, Allison and Elizabeth. As a parent, she was actively involved in her children’s lives. She and Ralph hosted construction parties at their house for 12 high school homecoming parade floats, held Young Life club meetings, and welcomed hundreds of kids and teenagers into their home through the years. She served as President of multiple booster clubs and was PTA President at Chesnut Elementary School and Peachtree High School. She rarely missed an opportunity to chaperone a school dance or event and organized the Miss Peachtree High School Pageant on multiple occasions. Sally was so involved in fact, that she was sometimes mistaken for a school employee. Always willing to step in where needed, when Peachtree High School didn’t have a coach for the high jump, she became the volunteer coach. This experience later enabled her to be a high jump official for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. One of her prized possessions was a brick that she acquired when Peachtree High School was demolished in order to build Peachtree Middle School.

As a grandparent, Sally was always present. Sally took great joy in her five grandchildren, never saying no to the opportunity to spend time with them. She spent countless hours at soccer, lacrosse, baseball, wrestling, karate, and softball cheering from the stands. She attended every school program, every picture party for a dance, and every recital. She went shopping for prom dresses and had deep talks with them about the philosophical lessons learned from watching Sponge Bob. She would try to hoola hoop, learn to shimmy (which she never could do), play board games, ride roller coasters, and even compete with them for who could do the most push-ups (she usually won). She loved each one uniquely and helped them to see their own unique gifts and talents. She is remembered by them as their beloved grandmother—the one who had a great smile and sense of humor, who loved them unconditionally, and who taught them a lot about how to love. As an Emory alumna and nursing professor, Sally invested countless hours in her profession and the people around her. She taught in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing for 38 years. Always up for a challenge, in her 60’s Sally pursued and earned her Ph.D. in nursing at Georgia State. During her time at Emory Sally helped invigorate the Nurses Alumni Association Board and held many leadership positions within the organization, including four terms as board president. She was a founding member of Emory’s chapter of the honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau, and served as President and Graduate/Nurse Leader Counselor of the school’s Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. She led the Admissions Committee for the Nursing School and for 20 years, she chaired the Virginia Lee Franklin Conference Committee, bringing together nurse leaders in geriatrics, psychiatry, and neuroscience throughout the region to advance research, education, and practice. In Spring of 2009, Sally was awarded the Turman Award, which recognizes one Emory alumni each year who has made outstanding contributions of time, expertise, and leadership to Emory. She was the first faculty member at Emory to receive the award. When presenting the award, Emory’s President remarked, “As a teacher and as an alumna on campus and off, Sally Lehr’s service to her community has been invaluable and transforming. She has been and continues to be a role model for generations.”

Far more important than the offices she held or the awards she received, Sally used her platform as a teacher as an opportunity to broaden others’ understanding of mental illness and human sexuality and to ultimately help others learn to love and accept themselves and others for who they were—a value which was at the core of who she was. As a professor she is remembered for the personal investment she made in her students, how she listened and helped students navigate challenges, and the way she left an indelible mark on so many of their lives.

Sally was also a woman of courage who loved her country and had a passion for history, particularly WWII. Her father had been a graduate of the Citadel, and she was proud of his service to her country. She was an active member of the WWII Roundtable in Atlanta, and talked often of the wonderful stories and lessons she routinely learned from the WWII veterans who spoke. She used travel as an opportunity to learn more about history, and celebrated the 70th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy.

Sally never missed an opportunity to share her love history with others, holding a deep love for her country and believing strongly in the importance of learning from our past and appreciating the sacrifices people made for our freedoms. It is fitting therefore, that her favorite holiday was July 4, a time to celebrate these freedoms. She saw July 4th as a time to spend time with people she loved without the distraction and stress of purchasing gifts, setting fancy tables, or cooking enormous meals. She always began July 4th with family and friends participating in the Peachtree Road Race which she ran 35 times, including last summer at the age of 73.

Despite a life filled with accomplishment, many of us never knew the full range of all she had achieved because she didn’t focus on herself. She was humble and kind and never invested herself in anything to be recognized. Perhaps what was most outstanding and influential about Sally, and what she would want to be remembered most for, was how she made people feel. She listened, cheered them on, made them feel accepted, and always loved them for who they were. Her love transformed people.

Dr. Sally Lehr is survived by her husband of 52 years, Dr. Ralph Ridgway Lehr II; daughter, Carolyn Lehr Facteau (Jeff), and their children David Bennett Facteau, Katherine O’Neill Facteau, and Madeline Elizabeth Facteau of Johns Creek, GA; daughter Allison Lehr Weatherspoon (Dustin) of Atlanta, GA; and daughter Elizabeth Lehr Ridenour (David), and their children Ridgeway Price Ridenour and Judson Thomas Ridenour of Dunwoody, GA. She is also survived by her brother, John Bennett Cumbus of Houston, TX, and her sister Suzi Cumbus Lindsay of Montgomery, AL.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made either to Sally T. Lehr Scholarship that will support nursing students with a preference for students interested in psychiatric-mental health or human sexuality or to the Winship Melanoma and Skin Cancer Fund.

If you want to make a gift in Sally's honor to the Sally T Lehr scholarship: make checks out to Emory University @ NHWSN; Emory University; 1520 Clifton Road, Suite 446; Atlanta, GA 30322; Re: Sally T. Lehr scholarship Fund or you can give online at by selecting “specific designation,” clicking "other" and typing in: Sally Lehr Scholarship Fund. You can also call Amy Dorrill in the School of Nursing directly at 404-727-6264 if you have any questions.

If you want to make a gift in Sally’s honor to the Winship Melanoma & Skin Cancer Fund, make checks out to the Winship Melanoma & Skin Cancer Fund, 1762 Clifton Rd., Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322 (please note on your donation that it is in honor of Sally Lehr) or gifts can be made online for this same purpose at:


  • Funeral Service Friday, May 26, 2017

Sally Tyler Tyler Lehr

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August 19, 2017

It is true heartbreak to know of the loss of Dr. Lehr. What a true pleasure it was to have known Sally - as she so politely would have preferred that I address her by her first name. My thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family, friends and loved ones. Thank you for igniting my interest in psychiatric nursing, for being so kind and understanding, and for always brightening my day with your smile. Your tenacity is one of the many reasons I am so proud of being an Emory alumnae and I am so blessed and thankful to have been educated and challenged by such an admirable and beloved instructor.

Anne Marie Creamer

August 4, 2017

I am very sorry to hear of Sally's death. I first met her when she came to Jamaica with Gary Wallace and NP students back in 1997 or so. When I moved to study at Emory she was a lovely and inspiring support.

Susan Stevens

June 9, 2017

Sally was a wonderful person. To know her was to love her. I have known and admired her since early 1980. We shared our struggles with melanoma and our love of psychiatric nursing. I will miss her very much at psych nursing meeting. Condolences to her family.

Konnie McCaffree

May 30, 2017

Sally was one of the dearest! She and I spent many times together working on projects for our sexuality community. You will be missed by so many of us.

Margie Dunne Whittaker

May 28, 2017

There will never be anyone again as wonderful as Sally! She was my mentor and my friend. As busy as she was, she always had time for me and helped me through a difficult transition. I will miss her greatly. I am so sorry for you, Ralph, and for your daughters - I know you will miss her greatly, too.
Margie Dunne Whittaker

May 27, 2017

Ralph and family ,You must be very pleased with the lovely Celebration of Life yesterday . Thank you to everyone who shared the rememberances of Sally 's life .Blessings to everyone ,Linda Denham

May 26, 2017

Dear Ralph and family,
Just wanted to let you know Ed and I are thinking of you. We never saw you when you did not mention your sweet Sally and the rest of your family. I knew her briefly when we were both at Emory, but through you grew to know her much better. Love to you, especially during this time. Pat and Ed Joy

Jessica Foldevi

May 26, 2017

May your most beautiful soul rest in peace. I have felt so lucky & so fortunate to have crossed paths. I'm not sure words could wholly express how truly wonderful you are & how much you have touched the many lives of others.
I hope to carry on your compassion & love of nursing. Many times in my blooming career I've thought of you & have used what you have taught me in caring for my patients.
I am truly grateful to have known you. May the heavens & sky above celebrate your joyous , wonderful loving soul.

Nan Shaw

May 26, 2017

Dear Ralph,
As one of my oldest and dearest friends, I just wish I knew a way to send you and your family comfort at this very difficult time. I have read the words about your precious Sally and only wish I had known her better. I always knew that she had to be very, very special for you to have loved her so deeply all of these years. I just didn't know, until now, how incredibly special and compassionate and accomplished she was. She is an angel that will be with you and your children forever more. Sending a heart full of love for you all.

Dale & Joy Nicholson

May 25, 2017

Ralph & Family,

We are deeply saddened by the news of your loss. Sally was such a special person, and we are proud to have known her. She will be greatly missed by her extended family in Dunwoody and those of us that knew her.

Dale & Joy Nicholson