Obituary: Susan Wigglesworth Johnson
Susan Wigglesworth Johnson passed away peacefully at her home in Wolcott, Colorado, surrounded by loving family in the care of hospice on Sunday, August 11.
Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1945, to loving parents and two doting older brothers, Susie grew up with a love of the ocean.
Susie attended the MacDuffie School for girls in Springfield, Massachusetts, through high school and graduated in 1963. She then enrolled in Colorado Women’s College — now a part of University of Denver. She met her “honey” Don “Dozer” Johnson in her early years of college and together they developed a love of the mountains. After graduating from college, she returned home to Marblehead with the intent of pursuing a master’s degree. Her love of the mountains and her love for Don brought her back to Colorado in 1969. They married at the Vail Chapel in July 1970.
Life in the pioneer town of Vail was idealistic. Don worked on the ski patrol and Susie worked at the ticket office. Evenings were filled with fun and laughter. Their beloved Teddy was born in 1972, and they soon started “taking responsibility for our lives.” Don and Susie built their first home in Lake Creek in 1973 when a phone call to Vail from Edwards was still long distance. Over time, Susie became a supervisor at the ticket office at Vail and then at Beaver Creek under the “bubble’ when it first opened in 1984 while she maintained an active volunteer life in Teddy’s schools and other recreational programs.
After Teddy left for college and her Vail Associates days were behind her, Susie decided to pursue a job as a travel agent. This job made it possible for she and her ”honey” to travel the world and experience many different adventures.
Witnessing the kindness and care of the hospice organization when her mother passed, Susie became a hospice volunteer herself. It was an extremely fulfilling experience and she eventually joined the Hospice board of directors and later became president of the board.
Susie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 68. She fought it with the same positive attitude with which she approached life; and was supported by her husband Don and son Teddy. During her battle against cancer, Susie overcame the unexpected loss of her beloved husband Don. Despite this setback and others, she persevered with her mantra of “Carpe Diem” — taking trips to Alaska, the Britsh Virgin Islands and home to see her birthplace and family. These trips and her active lifestyle in the Vail Valley filled her last years with fun, laughter and friends.
Susie was deeply grateful for the circle of friends, family, and the amazing care by her medical team at the Shaw Cancer Center who supported her during her journey with cancer. She always claimed that her positive attitude and serious exercise regiment is what kept her living with pancreatic cancer for so many active years.
Susie’s loss leaves an empty spot in the lives she touched. Those who knew her were drawn to her magnetic personality and her infectious laughter and silliness. She was just so fun to be around! Susie had the unique ability to pull others into her positive attitude, love of life, and belief in perseverance through hardship. To be around Susie in her last days was to remember that even the most challenging times can be filled with moments of laughter and joy. Her rare ability to be light-hearted even in the most difficult times and to face end of life with intention has been an inspiration for us all.
Susie’s legacy is the reminder to be joyful, to laugh a lot (even at ourselves!), to be kind to others, and to seize the day. Her passing is a profound loss for those who knew her.
Susie is survived by son Ted, his wife Susanne and their three children: Cami, Charlotte and Teddy. She is also survived by brother Bill Wigglesworth of Vernon, Connecticut, his three children Wendy, Andrea and Wes and their families; and brother Bob Wigglesworth of Manchester, Massachusetts, and his daughters Rachel and Becky and their families.
Susie is preceded in death by her father Robert G. Wigglesworth, her mother Thelma Wigglesworth Rogers and her husband Donald W. Johnson.
In lieu of flowers, Susie requested that donations be made to the Pancreatic Cancer research effort (www.pancan.org) or to the wonderful Spirit of Survival Program at the Shaw Cancer Center (www.vailhealthfoundation.org — choose the Spirit of Survival Program) in her memory.
A family-friendly Celebration of Life in her honor will be held on Friday, August 30, at 4 p.m. at 4Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, Colorado. All who would like to remember Susie’s spirit are welcome to attend.