It’s tough for me to say those words “ Good Christian Woman.” Can you imagine how someone who is not a Christian reacts to being in a lesser category of human being? It’s a tough thing in this modern world of divisions between people, made even smaller by religion, race, ethnic background, gender, and sexual preference, blue and red states and on and on and on, to view someone in a overall way as a wonderful person.
I know that Susan views herself as a Christian woman. To me, she will always be one of the best people that I have ever met. Susan lives in a place called Nectarine at the Southern end of Venango County. She is married to Garry, a disabled Vietnam vet. I came into contact with Susan when she became the representative of the Franklin School District on the Intermediate Unit Board. She and I and Carol became fast friends and are still friends from the long distance between her home and Harrisburg.
Susan came onto the board not knowing much about the I.U. She wound up knowing more than most of our employees. Her view of life was so child and human centered, that the I.U. was a perfect place for her to be. At the outset of her time on the board, Susan was taking care of her daughters and running the farm for her family. Mani’s the time we heard about escaped animals walking on major roads, newborn animals and tales of the Mennonites who lived next door to her. She was, in a sense, the quintessential rural person. She was also a nurse. She would help out her Mennonite neighbors locally with suggestions for health care. Many old order Amish and Mennonites do not go to doctors or hospitals.
Susan began each day by looking for a verse in the bible ( both old and new testaments) to guide her for that day. She claimed that her way of life emanated from those lines of scripture. Somehow, I was not convinced. I believe that Susan looked for good things to do for people and found those passages that met her aim to be of some help. She was not turned inward as many religious conservatives, be they Christian, Muslim, or Jew, are. She was at peace with the world that she wanted to make better. There is a saying in Hebrew, Tikkun Olam ( repair the world) that Susan ascribed to.
One time when we were having opening day in- service for our staff at the I.U., I asked Susan, who had become president of the I.U. board, to make the opening comments. She did, and quoted liberally from the bible. I was kind of worried that it might offend some people. However, this was Susan and no one took offense. They all knew her and what she meant.
She was a giant supporter of pre-school programs. She knew that if you got kids early, they were repairable and could be made ready for kindergarten. Her support knew no boundaries. One of her colleagues on the board once made a remark about why we needed so many preschool programs. Susan turned toward the gentleman and gently tapped him across the face and told him that he had not been listening to what was going on for a year. The other board member said it was a slap. Susan claimed that it was just a tap. We wound up having the largest pre-school program in the state.
Susan continued to grow as a person and as a board member. As time went by, she became surer of herself in many other parts of her life. She studied hard and became a stock broker and pursued that course of life for a number of years. Recently, Susan had a stroke and is confined to her home and general area. She is still an active grandma with 6 or 7 grandchildren. Carol and I owe so much to this wonderful woman, a truly good Christian woman.



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