Saying good-bye to Suzy

Suzanne Rene Lepeintre

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“It came back, the cancer came back.” That was Suzy hurrying up the stairs three years ago. She had gone to the doctor to check on a nagging pain in her side. She and her husband hugged each other on the couch. The tears came soon after. They both knew what it meant. Time was no longer a seemingly plentiful commodity.

Time for Suzy began on November 25, 1966 in Medford, Oregon and it ended on June 12, 2017 in Bellevue, Washington. She spent most of her childhood in Eugene, Oregon where she moved at the age of 8. She graduated from North Eugene High School in 1985. It is during her undergraduate studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland that she started to travel the world, a passion that would never leave her. While in Germany, she travelled throughout Europe and beyond, hitchhiking through Greece, Egypt and Israel. She fell in love with her future husband Francois in France and Germany.  They married (for the first time) in 1992.  Her beloved children, Delphine and Paul, were born in 2000 and 2004.  The guiding thread of her life was connecting and sharing with people.  Her  friends became family and no one was a stranger for long.

Those who met her, even only once, would never forget her. There are some people whose sheer force of living and indomitable force of being make an indelible mark on your life. Suzy taught us how to be brave by relating to others fearlessly. She was fiercely intelligent, full of energy and piercingly insightful. She was courageous, sexy and funny. Suzy was compassionate with the world and herself.

Her professional accomplishments reflected her boldness to make a difference. She earned her Master’s degree in teaching English as a second language from the University of Washington in 1994. She began working for Bellevue College in 1999 and became a tenured faculty member in 2008. Bellevue College President Dr. Jill Wakefield recently wrote: “Suzy was beloved across campus for a variety of reasons: her deep commitment to educational equity, her positive spirit and courage and her dedication to our students. She was pivotal in the development of the Faculty Commons. We are so grateful to the years of service Suzy gave to Bellevue College. She will be deeply missed by colleagues and students alike.”

Suzy always said “you gotta live as if you’re gonna live.” It was no surprise that she decided to approach her disease with a plan, as she had always done. She detailed her journey with cancer and death in beautiful and exacting words. It is impossible for us to capture a sense of her intense and beautiful writing, we can only point you to her blog:

A true testimony to Suzy’s bravery was written by her oncologist Dr. Tanya Wahl: “…she met every obstacle with utmost spirit and grace. And, she had a very useful sense of humor about all of it too. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so clear about her goals, especially in caring for her family, as Suzy was.”

Family was defined by Suzy with a generous and inclusive heart, she will be dearly missed by every one of the people she included in that group. In her immediate family, she is survived by her husband, François, daughter Delphine, son Paul and sister Kaylea. Her parents Tom and Lynn Kersten preceded her in death.

It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s hard to let go of someone so young and good, so filled with life and love. Please join us on Saturday, August 5, 2017 at the McMenamins Anderson School at 10:30am for the celebration of her life. Together we can grieve her passing and remember her beautiful spirit.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the following organizations that were close to Suzy’s heart.

Camp Kesem

Harmony Hill

Swedish Cancer Institute


One thought on “Saying good-bye to Suzy”

  1. This was a beautiful statement about Suzy and yet it is so hard, isn’t it, to capture all the nuances of her as a real vibrant soul in words. I regret that a court date in London means I will be away in the UK from 31 July to the 17th of August so I will miss this opportunity to come together with others who know Suzy better or from different perspectives. Be sure I will walk along the Thames that evening (time difference) and then raise a glass to her. I have made a contribution in her name to Swedish–a place, I know, from experience that is top-notch in care and caring.


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