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Susan Louise Kaman(1944 - 2013)

Suzie Kaman, 68, passed away Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, following a brief illness. Service: There will be no service. Remember her by a lake; she would have liked that. Born to Ned and Louise Dress in Canton, Ill., on Oct. 7, 1944, "Suzie" was the first girl after three boys, not a princess but a curious tomboy who would rather play with her older brothers' toy guns than her own dolls. That is, until starting junior high in the new town of Lancaster, Ohio. Suzie's father took her to a barber where he gave her a crew cut. Nervous and embarrassed, Suzie confided that she was scared to make friends at her new school. However, on the very first day the kids of Lancaster embraced her without a second thought. She never forgot that generosity of spirit and tried to share it the rest of her life. Incidentally, she wore her hair short for most of her life as well. Her fondest memories of her youth were at Clam Lake, Wis., where her father and three brothers built a log cabin. The Dress family would spend every summer there and magical stories of swimming, fishing, or simply daydreaming on a boulder always gave her a wistful look of nostalgia. In the months before her death Suzie found the cabin, which the family had sold in the mid-'70s, on-line with its own blog! Delighted and curious, she and her sister contacted the new owner and together they contributed tales of their childhood and the cabin's origins. Her father, Ned Dress, was an engineer and while Suzie was in high school the family was preparing to move to Korea for his work. Instead he accepted a job with Westmoreland Coal Company in Big Stone Gap, Va. Suzie graduated there from Powell Valley High School in 1962. She had dreams of being an art major at the University of Dayton but finances dictated she attend Radford. While there she met Robert Kaman, a young doctorate candidate at Virginia Tech. They married at the War Memorial Chapel in 1964. After moving to Ann Arbor, Mich., Suzie and Bob had two children, Geoff and Jessica. Bob worked at the University of Michigan and Suzie raised the kids. She loved the liberal city and felt at home among the artists there. When they left for the University of North Texas in 1973 she was heartbroken, but Texas proved to have its own charm. After spending the first few years in Denton the couple found their dream home in the little community of Lakeside outside Forth Worth. "I fell in love with Fort Worth." Suzie started working for General Dynamics, now Lockheed, and stayed there until 1993. At that time her kids were grown and out of the house, she and Bob had divorced and found new partners. She was ready for a new start. Suzie is described as bubbly, adventurous, independent and compassionate. Among her loves in life were books, libraries, camping and the ever-winding road. She loved to travel and together with her partner of 30 years, Barney Gustafson, they managed to cross America from coast to coast, never failing to make friends wherever they stopped, be it for two nights or two years. As a daughter, a sister, a tomboy, an artist, a wife, a mother, a friend and finally an adventurer, she was loved by many who have all said the same sentence upon hearing of her loss, "What will I do without her?" I think she would say, "Thank you. Now, make a new friend." Survivors: Suzie is survived by her sister, Martha Bean; her children, Geoff Kaman and Jessica Kaman; her granddaughter, Ella; and her partner, Barney Gustafson.

Published in Star-Telegram on Oct. 20, 2013
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