Passings: Reeda Fullington, Director, CVT Program

Reeda Fullington, a 35-year veteran of Santa Fe and the person responsible for growing Santa Fe’s Cardiovascular Technology program into one of the top CVT programs in the country, died at home on Monday, Sept. 14, after a 15-year battle with cancer.

‘A surprise’

Reeda’s death stunned her colleagues and students. She worked until going into the hospital about two weeks ago.

“I was shocked,” said Linda Nichols, Reeda’s colleague for 33 years. “She’d won every battle except this last one.”

People could not say enough sweet things about Reeda. She was kind. She was a gifted leader and a wonderful boss and mentor. She possessed stellar organizational skills. She cared. Most importantly, the CVT program was “her baby.” She loved it and nurtured it and grew it with all of her talent, hard work and dedication.

Arrived at Santa Fe with the CVT program

Reeda, 60, was a member of the team that developed the CVT Program as a hospital-based certificate program in 1970. When the program was moved to Santa Fe in 1974, she was appointed Program Director and served in that role for 35 years. Reeda earned a BS in Health Sciences and graduated from the nursing program at Orange Memorial Hospital, Orlando, and Santa Fe. She also co-directed the SFC Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. Reeda co-wrote several grants that allowed the Cardiovascular Technology Program to excel nationally. The program earned a 10-year accreditation in 2007, which is rare, and a testament to the quality of SFC’s program.

 “Santa Fe’s CVT program is respected around the country because of her,” said Nichols. “She advanced, moved, changed and developed the program into many different modalities. I am sure there are hundreds and hundreds of cardiovascular techs in the state who owe her a debt of gratitude.”

Nichols said Reeda was a gifted editor. She appreciated how Reeda could “tweak” the wording “just so” when they worked on grants. Reeda was compassionate and kind, without being a pushover: “She told the truth.”

Gifted leader and mentor

Amy Chadek, CVT’s Clinical Coordinator, said she had “only” worked with Reeda for the past two years, “but I am very proud to say that I was under her leadership and I considered her a great friend and mentor. She had so much compassion for the health of this community and for our students. She worked hard for this program and accomplished a lot. She established many good relationships with our clinical affiliates. Reeda was a remarkable woman and her legacy at Santa Fe will not be forgotten.”

 “She truly cared,” said Jennifer Weeks, who completed the CVT program 30 years ago and came to work as Reeda’s assistant eight years ago (Reeda was one of her instructors).

“She wanted the best for our students and for her employees,” Weeks said. “She went out of her way to help people and to make our students successful. She was one of the best people I have ever known.”

Reeda leaves behind Bob, her husband of 38 years, two adult sons, Greg (Tampa) and Nathan (Tallahassee), daughter-in-law Tricia, and grandson, Ethan.

Reeda spent her free time with her family – she enjoyed tailgating – and accompanied Bob on his business trips when she was able to get away. Sedona, Ariz., was a favorite destination. Reeda was an active member of the Gainesville Garden Club and a sustaining member of the Junior League.

Always positive and professional

“Reeda was one who never said a cross word,” said  Sheila (Baker) Lucas, another of Reeda’s mentees. “She always had a positive, upbeat sense about her and could be counted on in times of crisis. She was very well respected in the community and very well known — just a pleasant, wonderful, caring person who always thought of the little things.”

Scott Fortner said Reeda was “inspiring in terms of her ability to constantly give of herself without ever thinking of herself or advertising her illness and the suffering she went through physically. You never really knew that or saw that. You just saw her being totally professional. She was always on top of her game. She had a dignity that most of us aspire to but few of us attain.”

“She had a steely determination to make her program succeed,” he added. “That program was her baby.”

She will be remembered with love.

Reeda Fullington – photo gallery (You can upload photos to this gallery if you’d like to share)

Don’t Quit poem on Reeda’s office bulletin board – PDF

Funeral arrangements

Viewing hours for Reeda Fullington will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Williams-Thomas Funeral Home in Jonesville (off Farnsworth Road/NW 143rd St.). Her funeral starts at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church followed by the burial at Memorial Park Central in Gainesville. For more information, please contact Jennifer Weeks at 352-395-5972.

To donate in Reeda’s memory, send a check to the SFC Foundation, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville, FL, 32606, or donate online at the Foundation’s website. Make your donation to the attention of Reeda Fullington CVT Scholarship.