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Susan Singer Burnett ’66

A picture of Susan Singer Burnett

Susan Singer Burnett ’66 died in 2012. This memorial was composed by Lucinda Parker McCarthy ’66 and Sue’s sister Linny Stovall.

Sue was born in Torrington, Connecticut, to Harold and Laverne Singer, the middle of three daughters. Her father was a dentist, and her mother was a nurse. Coming west to Reed as a freshman in 1960 was the beginning of a joyful exploration of the world, geographically and artistically. Her roommates at the college that first year were Lynn Bowers ’65, Lucinda, and Leslie Mueller Stewart ’64. Three went on to study in Reed’s five-year combined program with the Museum Art School (PNCA). “Our parents were not quite thrilled, but we were. Two years of serious academics, and then three years of hands-on, six-hour days of studio work knit together our left and right brains. Reed at that time cost $1900 per semester and the museum school was $200 a semester. What a deal.” Sue did her senior thesis project in sculpture with Prof. Manuel Izquierdo [art 1953–56]. With her friend, who had been wounded in the Vietnam War, she homesteaded on an isolated island in British Columbia in 1971. Everything had to be built from scratch, so they learned carpentry, house raising, furniture making, water diversion, and gardening. All the while Sue was painting and working on a children’s book, based on the skills of living in deep nature. After several years, the friends returned to Portland: he went to medical school, and Sue went to dental school. Subsequently Sue practiced dentistry in northern California, in Kenya, and back in Portland. “Teeth are teeth worldwide.” Later she sailed to Hawaii on a ferro-cement sailboat; lived in Ireland, helping friends with a new baby; traveled to Sicily; and for over a decade spent winters in Baja, where she and husband Jim Hall, a retired fire captain, built a straw bale house. (Sue was married twice: first to John Burnett, a doctor in Hawaii, and for 20 years to Jim.) Sue and Jim made their main residence in Portland in an old house surrounded by woods and beautiful gardens. Sue excelled in every creative project she pursued, and was especially attracted to bold color in watercolor, painting, tiles, sewing, and gardening. “A restless, curious, coordinated, highly energetic soul, she changed the world for the better everywhere she went. We miss her very much.” Sue is survived by two sisters, Linny of Portland and Jean Singer of Whidbey Island, plus two dear nieces, Zoe and Shawn.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2014

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