July 25, 1945 - December 16, 2017
Susan Carol Schilling lived her life full of vitality and joy for the many treasures of being alive. She was 72 when a sudden and aggressive cancer appeared in what would be her last month of life. We shared sad goodbyes during her final gathering of loved ones before she passed peacefully December 16, 2017. Her love for many friends and family remains in our hearts.
Shortly before her passing Sue said, “I’ve been thinking hard about what this whole journey of living has really been about and the only thing I know for certain is that my life has been about who I’ve loved and who has loved me. I think I might become a star joining the others in the night sky.” Not surprisingly, for all who knew and loved her, she was always a bright star! Her love touched many hearts. She listened deeply with interest and patience; she had a zest for playfulness and enjoyed lighthearted teasing with a twinkle in her eyes and an impish grin to go with it. Her humor lifted all of our hearts even during her final breaths as she faced her goodbyes in full presence. Her generosity and kindness to all, along with her joy in the natural world will be a precious memory for all.
Sue was born just south of San Francisco in Burlingame, California. Her early years were spent with her parents, Alice “Ruth” Schwab and Charles Harry Schilling on a ranch in Santa Cruz. There were lots of moves between the west and east coasts during her mid years, then as a young adult Sue found Hawaii. It was in Hawaii that Sue met the love of her life, Mary Perry, with whom she spent more than 35 years in a committed life partnership and with the blessings of the state of Oregon were finally tied by marriage. As partners, Sue cared for Mary through her long illness, finding ways to continue the travel adventures, camping adventures, and exploration of national parks they so enjoyed sharing with close friends.
All who knew Sue know that she never really left Hawaii. She just brought it with her. She was often thought of as the “mermaid/water baby.” Sue reached blissful relaxation swimming long distances. She enjoyed snorkeling too, and shared her ecstasy of finding herself among sea turtles, whales, and schools of fish in Hawaii or on other warm beaches. Her home was decorated with art and gifts she collected over the 15+ years she lived in Hawaii. She continued annual visits once living back on the mainland. She appreciated Hawaiian culture and wove her learnings throughout her daily life.
Another passion of Sue’s was the study of Archeology. She was first exposed to Archeology through travels with her mother, Ruth and went on to receive an undergraduate degree in Archeology. Sue’s favorite travels were to ruins in Mexico and Peru. Sue was preparing for her departure to Vietnam and Cambodia just days before she became ill. Wherever Sue went she devoured museums, collected art books, explored galleries, and loved finding treasures in antique shops.
For the majority of her working years, Sue was a professional wallpaper hanger which she did as a self-employed contractor. Later, she worked hard to physically upgrade homes with Mary and friends, Karen and Joelle, which Sue seemed to do tirelessly. She worked in a group called the “Sisters with Blisters” helping to improve landscaping, home remodeling, and a wide range of visions, that were physically demanding tasks, for more years than anyone can remember. In fact, even in the past year Sue volunteered to re-stain two friends’ decks, and then to clear forest for fire protection at a third friend’s home. She offered these jobs with a sincere pleasure to be working physically hard.
Throughout her life, Sue enjoyed running, swimming, and hiking. She especially enjoyed these activities on her annual July visits to Lake Tahoe. One of her most treasured memories was hiking up Mt. Tallac — an 11-mile venture starting at 6000 ft. going up to 9600 ft. then back down the hill. Whether hiking, swimming, golfing, or just spending time together, for 40 years Lake Tahoe was special to Sue and the friends she shared it with.
On the fun side, Sue was an instigator for game get-togethers including the weekly Bridge group, and Canasta, bingo, dice, and Mexican train nights. She was a great cook who enjoyed preparing and serving a feast for friends followed by one of these games. And always, Sue was known for taking small detours to her favorite casino en route. Whether at the casino on the way, or game night at home, Sue was viewed as quite lucky, and all enjoyed her spicy banter during these competitive encounters regardless of the small change pots. Sue also enjoyed animals of all kinds and had two especially memorable dogs, Rags and later, Chewy and two cats, Barney and Sylvester. She was an Auntie to several critters and shared her home with a cat, Timmy. Sue was a blast to hang out with.
Sue’s 40th birthday as a friend of Bill’s was celebrated this past year. She was a sponsor to many and a great contributor within her community. Sue devoted herself to continued growth through sobriety and service as a volunteer for many whom she deeply adored and respected.
One of Sue’s favorite quotes was “Be mindful, Be skillful, Be direct. Eat chocolate and play bingo!”
Sue leaves behind a wide circle of family friends, her AA communities, the Perry family, and her God-daughter, Kaila DeFries.
A celebration of her life is planned for February 24, 2018 at the Calvin Hall of First Presbyterian Church on Walker and Siskiyou Streets in Ashland from 2-5 p.m. Please join us in Hawaiian shirts or wear.
In lieu of flowers, Sue’s favorite charity is the Jackson County Animal Services-Tax ID #93-6002298, 5595 So. Pacific Hwy, Phoenix, OR 97535.