Eulogy for Susan
Howard C. Anderson
Howard is having someone else read this because he cannot read it aloud without
crying uncontrollably and he wants you to be able to hear and understand what he
Susan and I met at a “Parents without Partners (PWP)” meeting in Columbia,
Missouri. We only talked briefly at the meeting but, in her book, “Becoming
Sunny Susan”, she says she thought I was “brilliant, shy and sensitive.” She had
volunteered to be a “caller” for PWP so had the complete phone list. In her
book; she says she did the unthinkable in those days: She called me to ask if I
would attend an opera, “Tales of Hoffman”, with her on Friday the 13th in
November 1970. I agreed and, during the opera, I thought wow, here I am for once
with somebody intelligent and refined. Strangely, we only allowed ourselves one
superstition and that was that 13 was a lucky number for us. Both our parents
were married on the 13th and many other good things over the years had happened
to me associated with the number 13. That was partly why I agreed to go with her
to the opera instead of going to the PWP party that was planned for that night.
We had both been divorced only a month before we met. We were engaged on the
13th of December. A month and a half after we met we were married. Looking back,
that was crazy and never should have worked. But amazingly it did.
We had planned to get married later than we did but I was finishing up my
Master’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Missouri and, during the
Christmas break, I finally had time to think and realized that we would lose
$3,000 in income taxes if we didn’t get married before the end of the year. So
we got wavers, scrambled around, found a judge on New Year’s Eve of 1970 and got
I graduated in early January. The Air Force assigned me to an intelligence
organization at Strategic Command Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska where we
bought a home. Susan greatly enjoyed being able to play the roll of a normal
housewife for the first time. (She had been working and supporting two kids and
an alcoholic husband for 11 years before her divorce.) We lived in Omaha until I
was reassigned to the Pentagon three years later in July of 1974.
Washington, D.C., was a very high cost area so most military wives worked. She
worked for a while in a real estate office but then accepted a job with the
Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon. She loved working in the Pentagon!
She held several jobs there and eventually was the Administrative Assistant to
the Director of Naval Intelligence, Covert Submarines, where she was granted a
Top Secret clearance. She found the work extremely interesting and got to sit in
and observe practice runs of classified mission briefings before they were given
at the White House. She very much enjoyed the people she worked with. Two of
them became book authors, P. T. Deutermann and Richard Marcinko who was the
founder and first commander of Seal Team 6. He wrote the book “Rogue Warrior.”
I also had a Top Secret clearance and worked in a “vault” in the Pentagon where
the door to our office area had a combination lock. Her clearances included
additional intelligence level clearances so she could visit me in my office but
I could not visit her in her office.
We had a little camper on a Dotson pickup truck and traveled up and down the
East coast. One day in 1975 Susan said “Let’s go to the Harper’s Ferry Fiddle
and Banjo Contest. That is what got me started on the banjo. Susan was totally
supportive of my efforts to learn the banjo and to eventually buy a really good
banjo. We joined the Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association and
the Tri-State Bluegrass Association. Susan organized weekly Bluegrass jam
sessions in our home in Virginia for several years.
We worked in the Pentagon for 9 years until I retired from the Air Force as a
I was hired by Motorola and we moved out here to Arizona. We bought a great
house that we both loved. Susan started a book discussion group since she loved
reading and discussing books. She read literally thousands of books during her
life. She accumulated vast amounts of knowledge from them.
She also started Bluegrass jam sessions in our house that were held every
Wednesday night from 7 to 10 PM. She organized all of that. I just played music.
Without her, none of the jam sessions would have occurred.
In May of 1995, after 8 years of occasional vomiting, severe abdominal pain and
finally weight loss of 62 pounds, she was diagnosed with Carcinoid cancer. It is
slow growing and incurable. When I heard the diagnosis, I cried but when I went
to her room I found she was very happy. She finally had a diagnosis and could
now devote her efforts to studying and overcoming the problem. She threw herself
into working for her survival.
Estimates at that time said she would have only 2 to 3 years to live. She
researched the internet, found the world’s leading Carcinoid doctor in New York,
Dr. Warner, and flew there to consult with him. He was her hero. He is why she
lived an additional 22 years. He had discovered that Sandostatin alleviated
symptoms and it was later found that it also prevented tumor growth. Sandostatin
is what kept Susan alive for so many years.
Susan created her web site, http://www.carcinoidinfo.info, and put everything
she had learned about Carcinoid out there to help people all around the world.
She included many items on how to live a full life with Carcinoid including
pictures from all of the trips we took. Carcinoid patients around the world
benefited from her web pages and she answered thousands of Email messages from
other patients, particularly the newly diagnosed who were frightened. She helped
them overcome their fears.
Susan also survived breast cancer. She had a liver resection for Carcinoid. Many
times over the years I cried when I thought I would lose her but she always
In 2013, Susan published her book “Becoming Sunny Susan.” It is available on
Amazon.com on the internet. It is essentially her life story. Also in 2013,
Susan published “Pioneers Past and Present: A Family History” which includes
further details of our lives, her parents lives, etc. It is also available on
the internet via Amazon.com.
On 2 June 2017, Susan suddenly became incoherent and I feared that she might
have had a stroke. Instead, it was a simple Urinary Tract Infection which, I
have learned since, often causes older people to become incoherent. She was
treated for a couple of days in the hospital then released. Then the next day, 6
June, her legs collapsed and she returned to the hospital. She was diagnosed
with C. Diff. a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract that causes
unrelenting diarrhea. C. Diff. is extremely difficult to cure. We tried
everything. Two fecal transplants, Vancomycin, etc. Hospital, rehab facility,
hospital, home, hospital, rehab facility, and finally home on hospice. The
hospice people were trying to make her comfortable while I was trying to keep
The C. Diff. infection, I think, was cured by an 8 week course of tapered
Vancomycin but she had gotten weaker and weaker and could not stand up or walk.
Some days I thought she would live then some days I thought she would die. It
was awful. Near the end when she could not talk in sentences, I heard her say
“God damn it” a couple of times when she was apparently realizing that she might
not overcome this situation. Several times when she couldn’t talk, she reached
out her hand to me and squeezed it and I got a chair so I could sit by her and
hold her hand. I was crying of course. I think she held on as long as she could
because she was worried about me.
The hardest thing I have ever had to do was watch her slowly decline and die.
I supported her in everything she did. She supported me in everything I did. We
were each other’s best friend. The loss for me is almost unbearable. We were
together 47 years and I was expecting more time together.
From a blues song, Saint James Infirmary
Let her go, let her go, God loves her, wherever she may be.
If I search the whole wide world over
There’ll never be another woman for me.
Proof of poster I designed and had printed by Staples: