Theresa Guidici Conroy, 88, of Roxborough, a podiatrist in Philadelphia and one of the region’s earliest female practitioners in the specialty, died Wednesday, April 29, of breast cancer at her home.
Dr. Conroy’s first practice was in her house in Manayunk. Later she worked from a medical office building on Ridge Avenue. At the same time, she advocated for the foot-care specialty, including as the first female president of the Pennsylvania Podiatric Medical Association.
“Theresa was a leader and a member of a generation that propelled the profession of podiatric medicine into the integral role that it plays in today’s health-care system,” said Michael Davis, the association’s executive director. “Each of our members owes her a debt of gratitude, and an expression of affection, for the contributions that she made to each of their practices.”
Born on Green Lane in Manayunk, Dr. Conroy lived there before moving to Roxborough in 1974.
She graduated from St. John the Baptist High School in Manayunk and attended Immaculata College. In 1954, she earned a medical degree from what is now Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine.
In 1952, she married Michael J. Conroy, one of seven lawyers selected to become judges on the fledgling Municipal Court in 1968. He died in 1995.
Because she knew that breaking into a medical specialty could be difficult, she believed in paving the way for others.
“She worked tirelessly to advocate for women podiatrists at the national level,” her family said in a statement.
In 1989, Dr. Conroy was elected to the American Podiatric Medical Association’s board of trustees. She served in that role for a decade and as the organization’s treasurer. She also served on or chaired committees dealing with budget, diabetes, education, member recruitment, and public health issues.
Sabrina Minhas, president of the Pennsylvania Podiatric Medical Association, said Dr. Conroy “was ahead of her time in championing public health.”
John Mattiacci, dean of the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, noted her focus on student recruitment.
“Theresa was instrumental in recruiting women into the profession,” he said. “Almost half of our students over the past decade have been women, and Theresa was so proud of the growth in our female graduation rates.”
In a 1989 letter to American Podiatric Medical Association members, Dr. Conroy wrote of feeling proud to be a podiatrist, despite never having performed the intricate surgery that some of her colleagues had done.
“I see the patients who come in off the street, and the patients who are bedridden in homes,” she wrote. “I see the patients who are Medicare- and Medicaid-assigned. I see the patients who come to me because I am in the church group that their cousin attends. I represent the core of our profession, the hard-working podiatrist.”
She received many awards for her service to podiatry before retiring in the early 2000s.
Dr. Conroy was a member at various times of St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church, Manayunk; Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Roxborough; and St. Genevieve Parish, Flourtown.
When not at work, she enjoyed shopping, watching old movies, cooking, vacationing at the New Jersey Shore, and spending time with family.
She is survived by daughters Rosemary C. Hughes and Theresa A. Conroy; son Michael G. Conroy; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.