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Suzan Butler Mayer ’62

March 21, 2019, in Portland.

Born in Portland, Suzan graduated from Lincoln High School and entered Reed’s joint program with the Museum Art School.

“Everyone seemed way more sophisticated than I and had glamorous, famous parents,” she remembered of her days at Reed. “Nonetheless, I prefer having been challenged in all respects than to have slid through a conventional school. Why, I was amazed to find there was a theory of theories! Unsettling, richly strenuous and soulful, Reed made me what I am.”

Suz went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Portland State University, and for more than 20 years was employed as a social worker in various clinics by the State of Oregon before going into private practice. Some of her clients identified as transgender or transsexual at a time when few counselors were willing to work with them and most people didn’t know what transgender even meant. She also became a state-certified mental health examiner to civil commitment hearings in the Oregon state circuit court system.

A passionate and prolific visual artist, she worked with a variety of materials and collected odd and beautiful things—both natural and man-made—which she incorporated into shadow boxes, sculptures, and jewelry. Her work was shown at many art galleries and venues throughout the Portland area.

Suz’s kindness and generosity were legendary; she rescued many friends from the streets and provided temporary lodging in her home. She had an extensive network of friends and business acquaintances and was adept at matching people with jobs and people with people. She died peacefully at home, following a courageous 15-year struggle with cancer, and is survived by her daughter, Andrea Izquierdo Tores.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2018

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