In Memory

M Susan Wasson (Neal) - Class Of 1960

M Susan Wasson (Neal)

Mary Susan Neal passed away April 28, 2008 at Landmark Care Facility in Yakima, Washington after a courageous three year battle with cancer.  Born in California on April 1, 1942, Susan lived a life full of laughter, friendship and giving.  From an early childhood she embraced life.  Her father taught her to love the ocean and not be afraid of the powerful waves.  This early lesson carried her far in life - face the challenges before us with courage, and surround ourselves with loving family and friends who will teach us to recognize the strengths already within us.

Susan is surived by her daughter, Amy Neal (Garon Jones), son, Aukai Lee (Suzie Lee), and grandchildren Malina, Keale, and Kamanakai.  She is preceded in death by her partner, Rudy Martinez, and her parents, Ellie and Curtis Wasson.

Susan's earliest adventure took her to Hawaii soon after high school.  The California girl embraced the Hawaiian spirit.  She married surfer Sam Lee and together they had Samuel Aukai Lee.  Her love of the ocean continued through Sam's love of surfing and their instinctive love of the water given to Aukai.  Her connection with people served her well as she took on the difficult task of signing up young soldiers for the Vietnam War.  Through these challenging days she met a young soldier (Terry Neal) stationed on the Island.  This next passage in her life brought her and Terry Neal to Spokane, Washington when they married and had a child, Amy Christine Neal.  Job transfers brought the family of four to Portland, Oregon.

Once settle in Portland, Susan continued to show her talent of gathering friends.  As some people gather souvenirs, Susan gathered lasting friendships.  She continued to cultivate high school friendships and carried extended family close to her heart.  Now in the Pacific Northwest the splendor of the lakes and mountains provided a beautiful backdrop for camping trips with close friends.  The tennis-club girl didn't let a little dirt get in her way - but instead created fabulous meals and poured champagne in the middle of the woods.  Portland also nurtured her love of sewing, reading, and tap-dancing.

In 1982 the family moved to Phoenix where Susan was in her element in the sun.  Once again, Susan's radiant personality gathered kind, entertaining people who also embraced life.  Over her lifetime it has often been noted that without her innate ability to draw people together, friendships would not have been formed.  In 1991 a new gift appeared in her life when she met Rudy Martinez on the dance floor.  For more than a dozen years they enjoyed many trips to Mexico and family gatherings.

Susan moved to Yakima in 2003 when she retired; there she once again gave many new friends her gift of friendship.  Within a short period of time she had created a tight-knit circle of exercise enthusiasts.  This initial circle quickly grew beyond the club as others were drawn to her laughter and love of life.  THis newfound group provided her with untold support during her extended illness.  Her daughter and son-in-law sincerely cherished her prescence, and she has left them many wonderful memories of Sunday cocktail hours, meals prepared to help with their busy schedules, and trips to Hawaii to see her beloved grandchildren.

Just as Susan learned as a young child not to fear the force of the ocean, she just as fearlessly faced the hardships in her life.  Courage, laughter, and a light-hearted nature all describe Susan Neal.  But the best way to truly see her heart is to look into the hearts of those that she loved and who loved her.  There you will see what a giving heart can produce - true friendship.

Yakima Herald-Republic, April 30, 2008