Obituary: Susann Pelletier – Lewiston Sun Journal
LEWISTON – Susann Pelletier, 70, died Sept. 15, 2022, at her beautiful 38-year-old home in Lewiston, surrounded by loved ones, the expansive flower and vegetable gardens she so carefully built and tended, and love and care from a wide circle of support from his community in Lewiston and beyond. She was born September 7, 1952 to Theresa and Lionel Pelletier and grew up on Lane Road in Greene.
Susann was diagnosed with stage four urothelial cancer in April 2022 and was overtaken by the disease earlier than expected.
To know Susann was to be moved by her in a certain way: by her poetry, her love of nature, her kindness or her vision of a gentler world. She was a tender, intense and trustworthy confidante. She has been a guide and mentor to many. A sense of justice was essential to his life’s work. Susann was resilient and independent and she had real vision, hope, imagination and wonder. During her final months, she felt and frequently expressed immense gratitude for her rich, well-lived and beloved life.
Susann has traveled throughout her life, enjoying the challenge of learning a new history, a new language and a new culture as a window into self-knowledge and compassion for others. Travel was also a value and a joy she shared with her husband of 38 years, Jim. The two have enjoyed everything from a day trip to their favorite Maine coastal spot, Bailey Island, to international trips through Europe, Mexico and Central America. Jim and Susann encouraged each other’s spirit of adventure and exploration, until their retirement. They traveled to Iceland where they witnessed epic waterfalls and entirely new landscapes, flora and fauna. In 2019 and 2020 they traveled to Costa Rica where Susann and Jim lived for five months. With discipline and commitment, Susann taught Spanish on her own during this time, with particular motivation to talk with farmers at the market and learn about local gardening practices and new plants to love.
Back in Lewiston, Susann was active in her community and close to her family. She has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to social justice, education and the arts. She has served on the board of the Maine People’s Alliance and L/A Arts. Susann has strived to build community in large and small ways. If someone sat alone in a meeting, Susann would join them. As a daily obituary reader, Susann loved learning more about people’s lives and how they navigated this world; she most appreciated tributes that painted an honest picture of a life. She was an observer, an attentive listener and an empathetic, intuitive and non-judgmental soul.
An avid bargain shopper, Susann took great pleasure in finding new thrift stores in the community, an activity she shared with her daughter and closest companion, Geneviève. Susann and Geneviève shared a passion for the natural world, cooking, gardening and conservation and the two spent countless hours each season working together to cultivate prolific vegetable gardens and then canning and storing the bounty at share with friends and family. Susann’s pickles were second to none.
Susann was an accomplished writer and her first love was poetry. She started writing poems when she was 11 years old. The daughter of a carpenter and a seamstress, poetry was Susann’s calling, her gift, and one of the many ways she made the world more beautiful. Her poems, which have been translated into French and Spanish, expressed her deep connection to family and place in Franco-America, as well as a vibrant vision of social justice at home and beyond. Her great mentor, John Tagliabue, predeceased her but remained influential and present in his creative energy. Her poetry group played a central role in the last years of her life, and these connections inspired her.
Earlier in her career, Susann worked as a reporter for The Maine Times and The Maine Progressive, as well as several publications in Chicago, Illinois. She shared her talent and passion for words with young people at USM, where she taught for several years, before teaching for 10 years at her Alma Mater’s writing workshop at Bates College. . There she met many people who became important and consistent parts of her life.
Susann will live on in countless ways, large and small: the values and skills she passed on to her beloved family, students, and community; his contributions to social movements for peace and dignity for all; the legendary victory she and her daughter won with their French culinary prowess in a Maine Top Chef contest; the way she effortlessly made every setting more beautiful with her artistic eye and, of course, through her writing.
In remembrance and celebration of Susann’s clarity and love, here is one of her most widely shared poems:
“Immigrant Dream I”
At the time,
the city where I was born
It shook me with the rattle of looms
And the night machines,
Blinded me with this immigrant dream
Angry flames in
Soot and smoke in bars
And on the altars
The stuff cooked in
When I read that the quality of mercy
Is not tense
Or how the music is the
Beautiful Portia, under the wide white porticoes
did not appear,
Nor Orsino on it
dew from heaven
didn’t get up
Sweet strains did not fall
And I only saw the
Men and women
To the factories.
The French who built cathedrals—
LaMontagne, DeBlois, Thibault—
Their backs bent now
With the weight of
each carrying a
black lunch box.
No trowels, mortar
Or lots of
Not skeins of silk,
For the weft and the weft of
Virgins and horses lodged.
Not even my father once
A boy without boots in the Maine winter,
I understood why people walked
On the old bridges
And meeting at
But, then, my father is a maker of whole things
(Houses, fences and gates,
Tables and chairs
cabinets and counters)
And when his saw sang across the board
And his hammer
hammered the nail,
The din of these mills has died down,
I heard the sweetest strains of labor
And I saw how
a world is shaped
With two firm hands
Susann was predeceased by her parents; and her sister and best friend, Nancy Reynolds, with whom she shared a love for gardening and enjoyed countless walks and chats together.
She is survived by her husband, Jim Lysen; his daughter, Genevieve Lysen, both of Lewiston; and his brother, Norman Pelletier, of Chesterville; as well as several nieces, nephews; the cousins; and many others in this community who consider his family.
Susann and her family have been touched by the overwhelming outpouring of love and support during this difficult time, and wish to express their deepest gratitude to everyone who has been there over the past few months and now.
The family would also like to thank all of the caring medical professionals at Dana Farber in Boston, New England Cancer Center in Topsham and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, for their service. They would also like to thank the staff at Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice for supporting Susann’s return home, where she was able to spend time with her family.
Susann’s celebration of life service will be held Saturday, October 15 at 10:45 a.m. at Trinity Church in Lewiston. https://trinitylewiston.org/
Condolences may be expressed at http://www.funeralalternatives.net and http://www.Facebook.com/FALewiston
Instead of flowers,
donations can be made to L/A Arts or the Maine People’s Alliance.
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