Susan Travers Howlett was born November 1, 1943, in West Orange, New Jersey. She graduated from Montclair High School, majored in Russian at Mt Holyoke College, and earned an MS in librarianship from Case Western Reserve University. Her first professional job was with the vaunted reference department of the Cleveland Public Library; subsequently she worked in libraries at Doane College, Xavier University, and Miami University, from which she retired in 2009. In 1966 she married William A. Wortman; in 1975, after nine peripatetic years, they settled in Oxford, Ohio, where they raised their two daughters. Sue dedicated herself to their education (including rich years of violin lessons, practice, rehearsals, camps, contests, and performances). In addition, the family enjoyed summer camping trips to national parks and regular visits to grandparents and relatives in New Jersey and Iowa. In retirement, she researched family history, followed her daughters’ careers, and helped nurture three grandchildren; she visited Maine nearly every summer since 2000, usually enjoying a hike up Cadillac Mountain. She was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in late 2011 (that summer she had swum in the Ligurian Sea and climbed a Colorado fourteener) and received excellent care at both the Siteman Cancer Center (St. Louis) and McCullough-Hyde/TriHealth (Oxford).
Sue died at home on August 31, 2020, survived by her husband Bill, daughters Emily Wortman-Wunder (husband Mike, children Silas and Helen) and Alice Wortman-Sample (husband Andy, son Reid), and sister Margaret Howlett. Her family will miss her subtle humor, devotion to NPR, and fresh baked bread; they especially miss talking with the best listener they have ever known. Her ashes will be buried in Malvern, Iowa, and a memorial service is planned at some future date.
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