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Susan Sonia Grover Rumley ’43

She was the youngest of seven children born to Abraham and Sadie Grover. With Abraham’s slender income as a carpenter, there was never enough food on the table, and Susan developed a lifelong interest in nutrition, food, and food preparation.

She never liked the name Sonia, and throughout grade school and high school went by “Sonie.” In 1938, she started at Reed—attending for only one year. For the rest of her 96 years she would tout the value of a college diploma. She regretted not completing her college education, but maintained her own higher education had come through self-direction.

In 1942, she met and married the love of her life, a Portland bus driver named Lynn Rumley. Daughter Linda was born the next year and the family moved to Boise, Idaho, where Lynn worked as a long haul truck driver. Three more children were born, Stephen, Stuart, and Nancy. For 12 years Sonia made sure the family was comfortable in a house that seemed to be perpetually under construction. Linda married and in 1962 the family decided to move to greener pastures in California. San Jose held the promise of better job opportunities and affordable college educations for the kids. Sonia and Lynn were determined that their children would enjoy opportunities the two of them never had. That year, Sonia changed her name to Susan.

She had learned shorthand and medical transcription, and worked a succession of clerical jobs. But Susan harbored dreams of being a writer. One of her English professors at Reed submitted one of Susan’s stories to a national publisher who praised the work and asked for more submissions. Throughout life she was a voracious reader and wrote poems and limericks.

The family moved to Sacramento in 1970, where Susan worked as a clerk in the county welfare department. The Sacramento home Lynn built for her was the gathering site for years of family celebrations.

The couple moved to Salem, Oregon, in 1993, where Susan resided for the rest of her years. Lynn preceded her in death, and she is survived by her children, Linda (Dennis) England, Steve (Wanda) Rumley, Stuart (Lorraine) Rumley, Abi Rumley Root; stepdaughter Etta Ruberg; sister Beth Rondone; and seven grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2016

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