Susan Katherine Burke

Susan Katherine Burke
Susan Katherine Burke passed away quietly in her sleep on Thursday, February 6, 2014.

Born in Sacramento, California, to Marge and Fred Knott in 1939, Susan spent her life traveling the world, supporting the arts, and building a vast network of friends. As an early- childhood reading specialist, she worked with young children in rural California and in youth detention centers to promote literacy and the appreciation of books.

As a young woman, Susan was a competitive skier in California and one of the first female ski instructors at Squaw Valley. She moved with her parents to Switzerland in 1952 and spent a year skiing the Swiss Alps and traveling Europe before returning to Sacramento. She attended Sacramento City College, where courses with Greg Kondos stimulated her lifelong love of art, and she continued to study art history at UC Berkeley, where she joined the Delta Delta Delta sorority and graduated in 1961.

Susan married Mallard R. Huntley in 1963 and moved to the Marysville area in 1965. Her career with the Marysville Joint Unified School District spanned thirty-five years, beginning with her work as the kindergarten teacher at Loma Rica elementary school. She earned her Master's degree from CSU Chico, and continued to work for MJUSD as a reading specialist. In the last decade of her career, she studied Waldorf education methods at the Rudolf Steiner institute in Sacramento, and taught reading at Thomas E. Mathews Community School in Marysville

In addition to her education career, Susan was an avid golfer, skier, and competitive dominoes player who raised three children. After retirement, she married Ramon Burke, moved to Grass Valley, California and Vashon Island, Washington, and became an active volunteer for the arts, hospice, homeless shelters, and book clubs in both communities. She also continued to pursue her lifelong love of travel, visiting South America and touring the Pacific Rim. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Susan organized a family trip to Ireland with all three children and all three grandchildren, in the summer of 2013.

Susan is survived by her brother, Paul Knott; her husband, Ramon Burke; three children, Jen, Sean, and Erin; and three grandchildren, Ada and Sophie Smith and Huntley Castle.

Her friends and family celebrated her life with her at her end- of-life celebration instead of a funeral; there will be a private family memorial ceremony at the family cabin in the summer.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends consider donating to one of the many non-profits Susan supported during her life: the UC Berkeley California Alumni foundation, Hospice of the Foothills, Grass Valley, the Utah Phillips Homeless Shelter, Grass Valley; or the Nevada City public radio station, KVMR.

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Mar. 9 to Mar. 11, 2014