Sunday, May 26, 2019

Passing Notes (2)

More notes and stories sent to me about Susan, again in no particular order. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did in the first Passing Notes post.  

“Patti & I are so sorry to learn of Susan’s passing. She was a great colleague, a great teacher and a delightful friend. It was my privilege to have worked with her for over ten years. I have many fond memories of that time including COBOL & HP Computer Ops (two classes that I took from Susan), Computer Club, EOT’s*, and just day to day life at UCC*. It was a great time in my life and Susan’s pro-active, positive, & good-natured approach to things was a significant part of it. For that, I will always remember and appreciate her. Thanks to both of you for being a positive part of our lives.”

*EOT - End of Term party for a small group of our computer and math fellow instructors at UCC (Umpqua Community College)

Pat and Patti Boyd
“Dear Susan, I’m sending this card to let you know how much I miss seeing and talking to you. I simply miss you!”

Maxine Durst
“I send this to let you know my thoughts are of you and Susan today. Long, long ago, 1978 or 79, I first knew Susan, when I was UCC Director of Personnel & she provided computer assistance. Susan was, always for me, such a sparkling light of positive service. I always noticed the devotion you both shared for each other, your work purpose at UCC and that both of you were so full of life.”

Jacky Hagan Sohn
“Hey ‘Grandma’ Susan, Just a quick note to let you know that I’m thinking about you. My mom fills me in on your card games (I hope your win record against her is better than mine!) And I’m grateful that you help keep her out of trouble. Thank you for that and for being such a fiercely loved, tough as hell, part of our wolverine family.”

Erin Barnhart
“Susan was one of the most positive and determined people we have known. Nothing tentative about her–she kicked ass every day! She taught us all to enjoy every moment.”

Paul and Mariah Beck
“In the late Spring of 1994 the Stansbury’s and the Kuhn’s went on a great European adventure. It began in Geneva but quickly moved to a quaint little ski town just over the Swiss border called, Megeve, France. Because it was off season, this gorgeous place in the mountains was very quiet and we all loved it immediately. There was a canal running right through the middle of town with small boutique shopping and restaurants in abundance. People were friendly and helpful, and we didn’t run into a lot of English speaking locals, but we were all quite good at “pointy-talky” sign language!

The four of us were booked into an RCI timeshare condo that was uphill from the town, and probably less than a mile away. It was an older three level unit ... not fancy but had everything we needed for a great time. The guys, as was their habit, quickly found a place to go golfing and took off in our rental car to humiliate themselves on a local course. Susan and I wrote out a shopping list and headed down the hill to a grocery store that we’d already spotted the day before.

Our plan was to stock the refrigerator and buy what we needed to fix a great dinner for that evening when the triumphant golfers returned. The plan was a good one except for one tiny detail ... we were loaded down with groceries, which, of course, included beer and wine that needed to be carried back up a very steep hill to our condo. After several stops to rest and lots of huffing and puffing, we made it back “home” and got right to work ... DRINKING!! It seemed only fair that we reward ourselves with some alcoholic libations ... while we put everything away and began the dinner preparations.

Naturally, there was the usual “trying to figure out all of the appliances.” One big goal was to use the gas stove and not blow ourselves up ... or even singe off eyebrows. We were preparing some “mystery meat,” which we hoped was a form of sliced pork and would turn out like bacon ... the ultimate goal being a wonderful chef salad! As time went by and the drinking continued we seemed to get funnier and funnier ... a regular Abbot and Costello comedy team. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life ... it was truly a miracle that the condo was not destroyed in a blaze of glory!!

When the guys returned from golf if took them about two minutes to figure out that we were sloshed to the gills ... and another two minutes to join right in. My memory is that it was the most fabulous “mystery meat” chef salad that was ever created.

I know that Susan and I did not do well the next day ... but it was worth it. Laughing that hard is just good for the soul!!!"

Lynn Kuhn Engle

Passing Notes (1)

I found tremendous comfort reading notes of what people remembered most fondly of Susan. I can’t think of a better tribute to Susan than to post some of those notes here for everyone to enjoy and hopefully bring a smile to all. These “passing notes” are in no particular order...simply a matter of when I transcribed them into the following posts.  


“Dear Susan, Well my friend, I know it’s your birthday month and certainly could not let it pass without acknowledgment. You and Mike have made retirement to Sable Drive a rich and wonderful experience. Adopting us into your lives and induction to Club Dragonfly (AKA, The Densters) has been such fun. The bread is divine of course, the shared repast always tasty, but getting to know you both has been the best of all.

You are such an intriguing person. Smart as anyone I know, witty and fun...and more than a touch naughty. We love a little bit naughty!!! I’ve loved to cook for you because I know you appreciate eating well and are willing to try most things.

Your hostess skills give me something to strive toward. What I’ve always envied is your “mis en place”. The prep work that you do to float around effortlessly once the guests arrive so that it looks like everything took no effort at all. You’re amazing girlfriend. The thoughtful hostess gifts you always seem to show up with–gifting the beautiful orange casserole pot, that steam generator iron–these are received with much gratitude and I will treasure using them. As a matter of fact, the casserole is soon to showcase some tasty baked beans for the Summer’s brew club Rendezvous.

I really just want you to know how much we appreciate you and all you’ve shared with us. We really miss you Susan. You are in our hearts and on our minds, today and always.”

Diane and Peter Griffin

“...We wanted to let you know how much we loved Susan. Our friendship with the two of you is one of our longest. We had such good times over the years. We cherish our travels starting with the wine country trip, weeks in Central Oregon, Crater Lake and the cruise through the Panama Canal. The hundreds of games of Pinochle were such fun and I’m sure Susan and I won more than you men. There were so many good times that they are too long to list. Susan and I shared so many interests from books to recipes (mostly from Susan to me), “Got It”, Movies and puzzles. I will miss her friendship so much.
     The two of you were so wonderful to our children. Geoff and Stacy have wonderful memories of our times together. We also have been rooting for you as you cared for Susan and know that you are missing her so much. We love you and know that we will be friends with you forever.”

Grant and Sandy Thurston
“As you all know Susan was very resourceful and creative.  Mike, Susan, Jerry and I had just spent the night in our first campsite in New Zealand (2017).  We were camping in a beautiful camper van which came completely supplied with dishes and linens, but no washcloths.  We had gotten groceries before going to the campsite, but we didn't find any problem, there is always tomorrow, right?

In the morning, Susan came down the ladder from her over-the-cab bed, went to the sink, and proceeded to wash her face with her underpants!!!!!    They were very pretty panties, however.”

Barb and Jerry Graf

Note: As a point of clarification, Susan was using the "correct side" of her panties... Mike

“To be honest, I’ve procrastinated writing you, because it makes Susan’s passing real. I’m so thankful for and cherish the memories I have of Susan. I remember the week Grandma Graf & I came out to visit. We tried to “ride the rapids” in the river behind your house. Susan got sucked under in the current. When I told you, you jokingly said, “Great, she’s wearing my watch!” I loved Susan’s laugh, quick wit and sense of humor. Her eyes were always sparkling. Every year, I’d look forward to your holiday card to see what adventures you’d been on.”

Holly Peterson

A Girl NOT Named Sue - Sorry Johnny!

When I first met my wife to be, she was known as Sue. Her family all called her Sue and that’s how she introduced herself until the late 1970s. She was friendly but sometimes a bit subdued those early years of our marriage, maybe constrained is the right word. I had the reputation of being the joker & entertainer when we were with other people and she just enjoyed being there. That said, every once in a while she would do something totally out of character* and it was obvious in those moments she relished making people laugh, smile, and enjoy just being together.

*(I was a representative in student government at the UW–Seattle and we were invited to a somewhat formal student government gathering at the University President’s home. Not too long after the gathering began, she spied the long curved banister to the second floor and decided to go slide down her best dress. She did and immediately was surrounded by people congratulating her for breaking the ice and turning the gathering into a party. Even the President and his wife came over and had an animated conversation with her as “the party” really began. Later her comment to me was that she got a little bit of friction burn between her thighs and decided that next time she did something like that and wanted to be the “Life of the Party”, it would be smarter to be wearing pants!)

Back to the name issue...In January of 1977, we had gone to Kaua’i with my Mom (Carole) and Joen (my Grandma) for a couple of weeks after we’d moved to Roseburg. Mom knew all the entertainers and really had a knack of telling stories. Frankly I think she just plain enjoyed laughing with everyone and competing to be the “Life of the Party”. I needed to return to Roseburg after my two week vacation was over, but Mom convinced Sue to stay for another week...or two since she had no commitments back in Oregon.  I should have been concerned leaving my Mom, Party Hardy Joen, and my wife together when every day was going to be a party in paradise with little or no holding back. Here’s a picture of Carole (sitting) and Joen, plotting the evenings activities at the condo across from the Prince Kuhio Memorial Park in Poipu...their favorite spot on the island.

Mom really loved to spend her evenings at the piano bar of the Sheraton Kaua’i with the extraordinary Norman Young (the piano player there). Norman was incredible! Not only was he a tremendously talented musician, but he remembered the name of every person who came into the piano bar since the day he started there. Anybody who came in and sat down would be introduced around the piano bar by Norman. He truly made everyone feel like a close, family friend. So Carole, Joen, and Sue made the Sheraton’s piano bar their primary party location. As it was later related to me, one night after I’d left for the mainland, the party trio were having fun and drinks at the piano bar. Norman stopped playing after being interrupted by one of their loudest laughing sessions that night and with a warm, smile told Sue she was worth much, much, more than a one syllable name suggested. He introduced her as Susan to everyone from then on...and she really took that name “upgrade” to heart.

When she came home from Kaua’i, she seemed a slightly different person to me–happier and more comfortable with herself. From that time on she also made it very clear to everyone, that her name was not Sue it was SUSAN ...and we all recognized from that new glint in her smiling eyes, that she was a force to be reckoned with in this world!

Here’s a slide from January 1977 that shows Norman and the “new Susan”.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Adventure Together Begins

On June 12th 1971 in the hot & muggy Wisconsin afternoon, we tied the marriage knot. I was 19 and Susan was 21. After a brief honeymoon in Spooner, we returned to spend a few nights in a tent staked out in the backyard of the farmhouse where Susan was raised. During that time and those nights, we planned our upcoming move from Shell Lake, Wisconsin to Spokane, Washington and the West Coast. I have to admit that I spent far too much time watching fireflies those nights in the warm, Wisconsin evenings...but Susan eventually forgave me. My firefly fascination also played into a quote that she enjoyed throughout our lives together...

"Good decisions do not make for good stories."

Here's a poor scan of our escape in the VW after the wedding.

...and so our Adventure Together Began...

Close Friends and Loved Ones Matter Most, Hold Them Dear!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Keep Kicking Ass Susan!

Adventure and travel always have been a part of our lives. We visited and explored 55 56 countries, visited all 50 states, and especially loved traveling with close friends and relatives as we journeyed around the world. We could never have guessed how fortunate, happy, and well traveled we'd become when we first met in Madison, Wisconsin in the Fall of 1969.

Susan was diagnosed with stage 4 peritoneal cancer in the Spring of 2017. Although many are saddened with her passing, I am extremely thankful to have had almost two more years of her companionship, love, and warm smiles than her prognosis indicated. I wish to thank the wonderful and caring staff of Steelhead Specialty Group and the associated Community Cancer Center in Roseburg for their support and empathy. I also wish to thank Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg for the exceptional Comfort Care given to Susan in her final weeks...I can't express the immense gratitude I will always feel towards everyone there who expressed concern, treated her with dignity, respect, and helped her escape the pain of her cancer.

After almost 48 years of our marriage, Susan Helen Stansbury passed away peacefully in her sleep on May 5th, 2019. I firmly believe she has gone ahead to seek new adventures, travel, and explore what we all hope lies beyond this life.

In trying to summarize Susan's life and adventures for an obituary, I realized that it was an impossible task to reduce the almost 50 years we've known each other into just a few pages. So, my solution is to try and recount as many of our adventures together as I can through continuing blog posts under the tab Living Well Together. I also am aware that my memory is nowhere near as good as hers was, but I hope you will enjoy our tales and travels as I remember them.

I will continue to try living up to her mantra of 2018: Wake Up, Kick Ass, Repeat!

Susan's full obituary

We both believed in donating to worthy organizations that served our local communities and contributed to the betterment of everyone through their efforts. Since we did not have children, helping those organizations succeed became our legacy goal. If you wish to donate to a great cause as a tribute to Susan's legacy, I can think of no better one than the Roseburg Community Cancer Center. I've put a link to their donation page below if you would like to make a contribution.

Roseburg Community Cancer Center - Donations