Sunday, February 18, 2018

Susan Stack, Rest in peace


Thank you, Susan....

Late last night I learned that shortly after noon yesterday, my friend Susan Stack had died a few short  weeks after her 65th birthday following a year long struggle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. In her own desire to maintain control over as much of her life as she could, Susan kept her medical situation (mainly) to herself and resisted hospitalization as long as she could. Susan maintained her fierce hold on life to the end.

For over 30 years of her life, Susan served the Presbyterian Church (USA) in the ministry of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association.  She was one of the church's last connections back to the church's old national offices at 475 Riverside Drive, New York City, leaving a city she loved to move to Louisville so she could continue to serve. Through a changing cast of Executive Directors over those 30 years, Susan always fought to keep PHEWA true to its founding vision, and the legacy of the director with whom she first served, Rod Martin.

During those years, as the person on the other end of the phone, Susan was in many ways a true "first responder" to needs ...and crises..of those who called into PHEWA's office. For countless people across the country, Susan was the voice, the ears, and the heart, of the ministry she served.  And thereby, for many, of the church they loved. For many, Susan was the human embodiment of what it meant to be a concerned, caring and responsive Presbyterian Church. Whether it was connecting someone to another who could give the advice needed or helping someone bring a new justice issue or concern to General Assembly, Susan more than any of us was that church.

Susan gave up her opportunity for early retirement in the hopes that she could continue to serve her crunch. Sadly, that was not to be. When Susan left, the church, perhaps without fully realizing it, lost the greatest...and most irreplaceable...relationship based resource bank that could ever be held in one person.

Susan loved her cats. And the Mayan Cafe. And whatever team Tubby Smith was coaching. And there are people she was committed to, whose lives were enriched by Susan, in ways no one ever knew about. Yes, she could be obstinate and prickly. But she was, in the words of her PHEWA colleagues, fierce and passionate. Especially for justice. And she had literally made the church the center of her life, a singular commitment beyond most of us. And yes, there was pain when she felt that she may not have been loved to the same extent she loved. 

Behind her desk at the Presbyterian Center, she kept photos of PHEWA families and their children, as part of her extended family. She also kept a gallery of photos representing those she called "the saints of the church," the faithful witnesses who inspired her to keep going on. Today she has clearly joined that number. Susan has joined the saints.

Thank you Susan. 

No comments:

Post a Comment