02/10/2019 our dear Susan died suddenly of a heart attack. She was the healthiest person any one of us knew; she seemed a decade younger than her 68 years. Our family and her heart family are in shock. The ripples are felt in all her many circles.
Susan was many things to many people. For many of us, she was our rock, the person we would reach for in our storms. Without her we feel adrift, but for the comfort of each other. The hole she leaves in our hearts is dwarfed only by the rich circles of love and community she both created and drew to her in her own way.
She was brave, and she was kind. She had a calm sense of knowing about her; someone once called it “true north.” She loved to laugh, and when she really got giggling, water would leak from her grey eyes. Her husband called the color “stone-underwater blue.”
Susan was born in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of Barbara Pierpoint Craig and David Mahon Craig, and the younger sister of Tally Craig (Richmond, CA). As a child, she began her relationship with horses and honed her craft of adopting neighborhood strays.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Susan set sail for the west coast in her VW hatchback with a new friend, a large wooden trunk, and her even larger blue tick hound, Flanders. The west coast was waiting for her.
After landing in Oregon, she put down anchor for a time at Alpha Farm, a commune outside of Florence. It was there that she learned to weave and build looms. The fiber arts were a lifelong passion and something that she passed down to her older daughter, Carrie Laing.
She transitioned out of the commune to start on her path towards medical school. She moved to Gold Hill to teach at the Hillside Farm School and helped out on the Kellogg family farm. It was there she met Cindy Kellogg Gaty, and they formed a deep bond of friendship, respect, and love that would shape much of their adult lives. They truly were kindred spirits in the adventure of life.
In Ashland, as Susan was preparing to apply to Oregon Health and Sciences University, she met and was successfully wooed by David Laing. When Susan got into medical school in Portland, they didn’t let the distance of an entire state come between their love. Every other weekend, one of them would drive up or down I-5 to be with the other, always stopping at Rice Hill for a massive scoop of good ice cream—because there is always time for ice cream.
Susan and David were married in Ashland, surrounded by their dear friends and some bagpipe pipers, for good measure. They moved their lives to Portland, where they made a little home and gave birth to their beautiful blue-eyed girl, Carrie Laing.
In 1986 Susan accepted a position with Kaiser Permanente in Salem, where she was a family physician and served as an administrator. She was an exemplary and caring physician, and she took care and time to listen to and to honor her patients,their families and her co-workers.
In Salem, the family settled into a little neighborhood stocked with young children and strong women, including Diana Stallard, who soon became another of Susan’s soul sisters. Nestled into their new home, Susan and David welcomed a second daughter, Molly Laing.
Susan raised her girls in her image, to be strong, empathetic, independent thinkers, with a thirst for life and adventure. She never wavered in her support and love for them. She always found time to enrich the lives of her family, even while balancing the busy life of a doctor. She handmade their Halloween costumes. Her Christmas trees reflected her balance of wildness and her sense of family. She made ordinary things magical.
Susan was a weaver of dreamscapes; a knitter of animal decked sweaters and blankets for her nephew, Oscar Larson’s, sons; a maker of yummacilious pancakes; a connoisseur of ice cream; a photographer of birds, beaches, trees, flowers, hills and dales. She lovingly cared for her husband as he declined from Parkinson's; for her daughters as they grew into beautiful, remarkable, dynamic young women; for her sister, Tally Craig; for her friends and her community. She shared her joy of life through the ukulele, hiking, kayaking and playing card games with friends. She believed in the healing powers of nature and went there for her own renewal and strength.
Susan was just hitting a new stride in life. All of those around her were proud and happy to see her explore, blossom, and branch in new ways. She fed herself from the richness her community and what nature had to offer. We learned from her. We love her. She will be missed. Plant some daffodil bulbs for her somewhere and think of her when they bloom.
Join us for a celebration of Susan’s life Thursday, February 21st 2019, from 1-4pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, 3215, 5090 Center St NE, Salem, OR 97317