Susan Morrow Callan Profile Photo
1940 Susan 2024

Susan Morrow Callan

April 12, 1940 — June 2, 2024

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND

Susan Morrow Callan died on June 2nd, 2024, after a brief illness. Her desire had always been to live life generously and then “slip-away.” And slip-away she did, leaving many well-loved friends behind. Born April 12th, 1940, in Cambridge, MA., Susan was a force of nature with a strong independent spirit. Raised with her younger brother, Johnny, in Sharon, MA., until high school graduation in 1958, her parents Catherine (Kit), and John Callan (Jynx), had a large house, a barn, and pasture for two horses, Prince and Ginger. Spending summers on Nantucket Island sailing with her father, built a love of both horses and sailing that lasted a lifetime. 

Susan graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BS in 1962 and received her Medical Technology ASCP at Dartmouth Med. School/Mary Hitchcock Hospital in 1963. Her resume included a stint at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden as a research assistant in 1964-1965, then on to Boston Children’s Medical Center in 1965-1967. Between 1967 and 1969 she was involved in Exchange Program leadership in Sweden and Ceylon/Sri Lanka. 

Moving to Anchorage Alaska in 1969, she worked as a Medical Technologist until 1972 when she joined a Project Hope tour on the ship USS Hope providing medical services and teaching the underprivileged in Natal, Brazil. In 1974 she returned to Anchorage, (Municipality of Anchorage Planning Dept), working as a Health Planner until joining the State/Federal Health Systems Agency from 1976-1984. During this time Susan became one of the first students at UAA to graduate with a master’s in public administration, eventually becoming Executive Director of the Alaska World Affairs Council. 

She enjoyed everything Alaska had to give plus added her own offerings such as a hugely successful long-lasting charity 10k, The Walk for Hope. In the 70’s she participated in the State of Alaska “open to entry” program. Staking out 5 acres of wilderness property north of Talkeetna, accessible only by railroad, she journeyed all over Alaska and the Yukon by car, railroad, ferry and small plane. Hiking, cross-country skiing, backpacking, (including the famous Chilkoot trail), canoeing, camping on beaches in Homer, plus weekends to her wilderness property. She loved photography, especially shooting Alaskan wildflowers, and became a Master Gardener and one of the original “recyclers.” 

In 1986 she was encouraged to move to the Northwest to coordinate a project known as the Architecture & Children Exhibition, work with local architects, and oversee fundraising. She fell in love with Bainbridge Island where her aunt Alice lived, and the rest was history. She would say, “We move but take ourselves with us and create our world.” Wherever she went, her list of friendships grew. 

Susan once wrote it was the loss of her last surviving parent that changed her life dramatically, as she became the sole heir and executrix of the family estate on Nantucket and gradually shifted into retirement. Retirement meant she took on shorter paid projects like working for FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and doing office administration or project research and development for a variety of organizations while still leaving her mark. 

Never one to sit down long, she became an invaluable volunteer, including at YES! Magazine from 1996 till 2020. A lover of red wine, Susan volunteered to help at one of the early Nantucket Wine Festivals, and quickly became indispensable as the director of the volunteers for Great Wines in Grand Houses program. This involved finding and managing about 100 people willing to serve at wine tastings and dinners in private houses, training them, supplying them with all the necessary gear, and making sure they knew where to go and showed up. Wine tasting in Beaune France also became one of her favorites, along with world travel, cross-country trips, and whatever exciting adventures friends might propose. 

Fond of music, especially classical, she was an accomplished pianist, as well as a voracious reader of all subjects. Susan loved puns and was a master of them as well as Haiku. She was always attending lectures or taking classes along with attending concerts, art shows, theatre and opera, and festivals including the prestigious Sitka Music Festival many times. Although her primary life’s work was as a medical technologist and eventually a health planner, her retirement career focused on teaching art and creativity. No one could top her design of complex Christmas cards with original poetry. She taught book making, card making and travel journals for 25+ years for the Bainbridge Island Parks District, Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island Library and her highlight: National Book Arts Conference – (Focus on Book Arts). Whenever possible she taught without a fee, donating as much as she could for innumerable causes. 

To the very end of life Susan was passionate about being a learner, travel, reading, cooking, healthy living, the gardens on her property, Mother Earth and all its creatures. Susan especially loved her cats, from Serendipity to Apostrophe, to Synchronicity to Abby- tabby. The last few years were devoted to becoming a Reiki Master to help heal them, and to explore the emerging new story of consciousness. Her last trip to France was just a few weeks before she passed away, and she continued to say yes! To everything, creating more watercolor paintings, taking cooking classes, and drinking great wine. 

For all who are dearly missing Susan, a memorial will take place on August 24th, from 3-6:pm at Dayaalu Center on Bainbridge Island. Donations can be made in her name to Bainbridge Community Foundation.

Arrangements are entrusted to the Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Morrow Callan, please visit our flower store.

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Saturday, August 24, 2024

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