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Susan Keese Pyatak

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Susan Keese Pyatak Obituary
Susan Keese Pyatak

1947 - 2015 BRATTLEBORO On Saturday, March 7, 2015, one of the brightest stars in the sky went dark whenSusan Elizabeth Keese Pyatak passed from this world after a complicated and devastating illness triggered by the flu.She was 67 years old. Her husband of 38 years, John "Bud" Pyatak, and her two children, Annie Faith Noonan and Christopher John Pyatak, along with her brother, James Patrick Keese, III, are heartbroken at her sudden passing. Susan was loved dearly by so many, but she leaves a particularly large hole in the hearts of her grandchildren, Zoe and Callin Noonan and Emmett Kolber; son-in-law, Richard Noonan; daughter-in-law, Samantha Kolber; uncle, Theodore H. Ely; sister-in-law, Sara Keese; nieces, Katie and Caroline Keese; nephew, William Keese; mother-in-law, Shirley Pyatak; brother-in-law, Daniel Pyatak; and sister-in-law, Michele Pyatak. She was born Susan Elizabeth Keese in Philadelphia, Pa., on August 14, 1947.Her early years were spent in Drexel Hill and Radnor, Pa. Susan had a happy childhood and was loved deeply by her parents, James P. Keese, Jr., and Lois Elaine (Steel) Keese. She had a special bond with her grandmother and namesake Elizabeth Truesdale Steel, whose spunk she inherited and refined, and her grandfather Everett Baker Steel, whose constant presence at the piano ensured that her early life was filled with music. Susan was a gifted storyteller. She fell in love with writing at an early age and felt called to share the power of words with others.This gift was expressed in prose, poetry, and music. In her teenage years, Susan was rarely seen without her guitar. She was also a gifted artist who was able to create beautiful images in various media. Susan graduated from Radnor High School in 1965. She then went on to study at Wittenberg College, in Springfield, Ohio. For Susan, however, the changes happening in the 1960s were an irresistible pull. She moved to New York City to follow her dream of being a writer. She got close with activist friends who drew her to San Francisco, Calif., where she became a pivotal part of the counter-cultural revolution and was involved with the Diggers, an innovative community-action group based in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. She then moved to Black Bear Ranch, an influential commune in northern California, and later moved to New Mexico, where she lived alone in a remote cabin without running water. After her daughter, Annie, was born, she moved to New England, to a commune in New Hampshire, and met her husband, Bud. The family lived in rural Connecticut for several years, where their son, Christopher, was born, before moving to Brattleboro, Vt., and then settling in South Newfane. In Vermont, Susan became an accomplished writer and reporter and a beloved member of her local and statewide community. From 1986 to 1993, she was editor-in-chief of Potash Hill, the Marlboro College Alumni Magazine. Her "No Stone Unturned" column, published in the Rutland Herald and the Barre Montpelier Times Argus Sunday Magazine between 1995 and 2003, won several awards. Topics she explored included family life, natural history, gardening, culture, and society. Susan served as a creative writing workshop leader for many years, participating as an instructor, panelist, and coach at various school and college programs. Susan was perhaps best known by Vermonters as a reporter and producer for Vermont Public Radio, and her segments would sometimes air on National Public Radio. She covered southern Vermont for VPR from 2002 until her death and won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting. Her freelance work appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Vermont Life, Vermont Sunday Magazine, Orion, Yankee Magazine, the Brattleboro Reformer, the Rutland Herald/Times Argus, American Profile, and other publications. In addition to her writing, Susan's great loves were gardening; taking walks and spending time in nature; reading; drawing; being near the ocean; and enjoying her husband, children, grandchildren, and other family and friends. MEMORIAL CELEBRATION: A potluck memorial celebration will be held at the Grange Hall in Williamsville, Vt., on Saturday, March 14, from 2 - 5 p.m. (snow date: Sunday, March 15, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m). Please direct memorial contributions to Brattleboro Area Hospice (Online donations can be made at https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=54985) and Vermont Foodbank (online donations can be made at www.vtfoodbank.org/GetInvolved/Give.aspx).
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Mar. 12, 2015
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