Obituary: Suzanne Ellen Reid (Cale)

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6/9/1960 – 3/15/2023
Tacoma, WA

Suzanne Ellen Reid (Cale), 62, died on March 15, 2023 in Tacoma, Washington – her home for the past 12 years. She lived with Parkinson’s disease and battled declining health in the final years of her life, succumbing to brief but serious illness at St. Joseph Medical Center. Sue will be missed by her daughter Shannon E. Reid (Bobbi) of Lawrence, KS, her 3 surviving siblings: Kenneth C. Reid (Ellen) of Portland, OR, April L. Reid of Tacoma, WA, and Debra M. Davis-Reid (Scott) of Port Townsend, WA, her nieces & nephews: John, Savanna, Nori, and Christopher, along with her cat Smudge. She was preceded in death by her brother Marvin A. Reid, mother Agnes E. Spurling Reid, and father Kenneth R. Reid.

Born on June 9, 1960 in the U.S. Army hospital at Benjamin Franklin Village near Mannheim, Germany, Suzanne was the youngest of her siblings – she also lived parts of her childhood in the Flint Hills of Manhattan, KS and her adolescence in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon. Sue found her way back to Kansas in young adulthood, gave birth in 1985 in Emporia to her only child then moved to Lawrence soon after, where her sister April then lived. She raised Shannon there and remained in the area until her move west in 2011 to be near her siblings again.

Although she certainly loved the mountains and the ocean she lived nearby late in life, she spoke often of the wide-open skies, sunsets, and storms of Kansas that she greatly missed. She always held a deep appreciation for the natural world, much like all her kin; she passed down to her daughter a profound respect for Mother Nature’s beauty and wrath, which makes sense given some of the weather she experienced early on. As children, Debbie recalls the two of them did some serious sister bonding under a violent Kansas sky that turned a menacing green when they were coming home from one of K-State’s local livestock barns where they used to go exploring. One day, they took cover in a ditch as huge hailstones pelted down and lightning flashed all around them. They ran holding hands and hugging each other, screaming and crying all the way back to the house. Sue would have likely said the whole ordeal was worth it for the kittens they might have found and named that day amongst the straw bales. She always recalled her adventures with pride and joyfulness.

Sue was also known to her family and friends as a fierce animal lover all her life, she especially adored cats and horses. She had many beloved pet companions throughout her life – Snowball, Sassy, Sinbad were a few special cats and Sue was also very proud of her German shepherd Buffy who she trained to be her protector. Sue was a lifelong artist, always seeking new creative mediums to express herself – even as her mobility changed over time. Suzanne was a painter, a cartoonist, a knitter, a writer, and she proudly attended online graphic design school in her 40s. She made her own greeting cards, loved to color mandala designs, learned acrylic dirty pouring in recent years, and had the opportunity to show some of her paintings in a resident art show at her nursing home. Over time, she had many friends online who she corresponded with about art and about Parkinson’s research. She was a lifelong learner, and a tenacious self-teacher.

Though she faced many physical struggles and emotional traumas in her lifetime, Sue was a survivor in every sense of the word despite those hardships. She healed as a young child from significant and risky heart surgeries, endured the tragic loss of her mother at age 15, and got lost in the mountains with only Blue, a black lab, by her side until she found a cabin to shelter in and start a fire – which helped lead rescuers to her. She discovered self-pride in the recovery work of her young adulthood, found her way as a loving single mother for years then later found her way out of a deeply abusive marriage, she also survived suicide attempts, endured chronic health issues, and lived through the global pandemic in a care facility. She fought to overcome adversity time and again, continuously finding more life worth living no matter the odds she faced. Sue is remembered by her daughter as a most courageous woman and a mom who taught her child to be brave, especially in the face of fear. She is remembered by family for all the fight she had in her, for all her life.

Sue always held a deep pride in the family she was born into and loved to recall the stories of her relatives, many which were of historical note. She always enjoyed exchanging letters with her kin, and especially relished the new stories and genealogical information shared by her dad, uncle Marvin, and brother Ken. With family roots spanning from Upstate New York to the Pacific Northwest, Sue also held great curiosity about all the places her relatives had lived, and she longed for more travel opportunities throughout life. While she always loved Kansas, she also always longed for being west again – she was grateful to migrate that way and strengthen ties with relatives in the final phase of her life.

Her sister April most admired Sue’s determination to pursue learning and recognition for her persistent efforts where others would have given up. An early testament to her pluckiness is remembered by her brother Ken who recollects how fragile her health was before open heart surgery in 1970, and what a relief he felt when their dad’s telegram reached him halfway across the world that the surgery was finally and successfully completed. Her sister Debbie remembers her as strong and fierce, demanding what she wanted and deserved for herself until the very end – and recalls that Sue was always concerned and compassionate about the things that were happening to all of us, and would rant about the things occurring around us in the world. Awareness is another value Sue helped to pass along, always teaching her daughter to be kind to others, and to pay attention to the suffering of those around us – helping wherever possible.

Suzanne Ellen was an important and beloved member of the Reid family, teaching each of them throughout her life how to hold ever-growing empathy and compassion in their own hearts. She will be remembered as loving, creative, funny, and resilient. Her family will gather by the sea this spring to remember her and honor Sue’s legacy together.

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