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SUSAN THERESE ZETKUS MONTPELIER - Susan Therese Zetkus, 58, of New York City and Montpelier, Vt., died on Oct. 31, 2010, after a long-fought battle with ovarian cancer. Her room was filled with flowers and tokens of affection from friends around the world whose lives she touched with warmth, good humor, and the gentle grace that characterized her vibrant and giving nature. Suzi's passion for hands-on involvement in natural sciences and humanitarian causes led her to develop an extraordinary network of scientists, educators, philanthropists, artists, explorers, and like-minded colleagues. Through this she helped raise funds for students in environmental sciences, linked young researchers with experts for expeditions and fieldwork, and made connections to render the impossible possible. Suzi educated herself and became a widely recognized museum docent and lecturer with diverse interests in paleontology, archaeology, astronomy, evolutionary biology, and ecology. Suzi was a Director of the American Fund of the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, and was a valued member of The Explorers Club. Her commitment to scientific inquiry led her to do fieldwork with the American Museum of Natural History, to work for the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University, and to serve as a consultant for National Geographic. Suzi was instrumental in organizing New York City's first BioBlitz in Central Park and conducted others in the United States, some under the auspices of National Geographic. As one of the most sought-after interpreters at the American Museum of Natural History, Suzi enchanted royalty, diplomats, Nobel laureates, pop culture icons, and everyday people with historic tales of scientific discovery. In 1997, she rediscovered the site of the first dinosaur excavated by the AMNH in Wyoming - one of her many paleontological expeditions with well-known scientists. Her work at the AMNH earned her several President's Volunteer of the Year awards. Charitable work was an integral part of Suzi's life. She worked with the International Hospital for Children, Fessenden House, the Somaly Mam Foundation, and the Coalition for the Homeless, among many others worldwide. She recently was designated a Grand Dame Cross by the Order of St. Martin de Porres. Suzi's work and interests spanned the globe. Her friends and fans on every continent mourn her passing and are unified in keeping alive her drive and spirit to advocate for the greatest of our individual and collective potentials.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Nov. 7, 2010
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