Susan Malaney Sperry, 63, of South Glastonbury, beloved life partner of Kate Calvin, died on July 12th after a gracious and dignified journey with a mixture of several types of dementia. Born on August 3, 1950 in Bergen County, NJ, daughter of Alice Malaney and the late Edward Malaney, Susan lived in Connecticut her entire adult life. After high school Susan went to school for nursing, first earning her RN and then her BSN, finally culminating her formal education at Yale University where she earned her MSN. Following Susan's training she specialized in psychiatry and worked as a psychotherapist in various settings. She was a psychiatric nurse for a number of years at Elmcrest Hospital and then, turning her attention to more holistic care, she worked for 13 years and in various capacities at E-CaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients with Dr. Bernie Siegel) where she helped to guide many people through their struggles with terminal illnesses. Following her career at E-Cap, Susan became an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) with the privilege to prescribe psychiatric medications. This new accreditation led to a job in the outpatient clinic at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital where she practiced as both psychotherapist and prescriber for 15 years. It was while in this position that Susan was diagnosed with early onset dementia and had to retire from her long and highly respected career. Susan was filled with innate gentleness, clarity, patience, grace, poise, style and dignity; she radiated a sense of depth and wisdom and was profoundly intuitive and insightful. She was an available and present listener and was adept at hearing the messages beyond the spoken. Susan cherished her animal "children" and enjoyed the daily companionship of Tallulah, Susan and Kate's therapy dog who retired from her long career on the same day as Susan. Tallulah, who had worked side by side with Kate for many years at a local mental health clinic, became a stay-at-home therapy dog and offered constant comfort and joy to Susan throughout Susan's illness. Susan was a much loved member of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship in Middletown, and as a many year participant in this wonderful sangha, experienced a deep spiritual life and developed many deep and meaningful connections. In addition to her partner, Susan is survived by her mother, Alice Malaney; her sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and James Jefferies; her brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Debra Malaney; and many nieces and nephews and their children. She is also survived by Kate's father, Bob Calvin; Kate's sister, Linda Kern and her family; and Kate's brother, Stephen Calvin. In addition to her father, Susan was predeceased by her much beloved youngest brother, Ross Malaney, and very recently by Kate's mother, Marie Calvin. Throughout Susan's illness, there were many people who were especially attentive and available to her, including her "mother-in-law", Marie Calvin; numerous friends and fellow sangha members; various caregivers in the home; Dr. Karen Blank from the Memory Disorders Center; and the wonderful staff at Hartford Hospital. Friends of Susan and Kate's created and sustained a respite support network, a group eventually known as the "Susansitters", who by donating hours of companionship to Susan, gave Kate some time each weekend to "refill her bucket". A "village" helped Susan through her final journey on earth. Susan will be remembered on Saturday, July 19th at 3PM at the Congregational Church in South Glastonbury where the Reverend Mark Unno will officiate a Buddhist service to memorialize her. Reverend Richard Allen will also officiate as host minister of the church.
Published in Hartford Courant on Jul. 14, 2014.