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Susan (Stone) Lanphear
Planting Seeds of Faith at Home and Abroad

Born October 1, 1956, Susan has lived in South Euclid her entire life with the exception of one year when she lived in Hiram. She is a graduate of Brush High School, Class of '74 and John Carroll University where she received her BA in Elementary education in 1978.

She has one older brother, Jim, who lives in Finland.

Just one month after her graduation from John Carroll, she married Lauren, a man she went to pre-school and high school with although she does not remember him from pre-school.

Lauren and Sue Lanphear cutting their 25th Anniversary Cake

Lauren and Sue Lanphear cutting their
25th Wedding Anniversary Cake on July 5, 2003

They have two children, William, who is almost 26 and Clare, soon to be 22. William is also a JCU graduate and is now a software engineer. Clare just graduated from Fordham and has started a new job in on-line marketing.

Susan's Mom with graduate Clare and Susan

Grandma Stone with new graduate Clare and Susan

Lauren also went to Hiram College for awhile and during this time Susan taught at Red Bird Elementary School in Madison. When they moved back to South Euclid she went to work for Forest City Tree Company, a business founded and run by Lauren's family.

"It was defiantly a family affair. I worked for my husband and father-in-law. My mother-in-law and mother also worked in the office."

She stayed there for a year before becoming Program Director at the Hillcrest YWCA. The program taught Peer Counseling for High School children and dealt with issues such as alcohol and drug prevention. She stayed at this job until just before William was born in 1981. It was also at that time that they moved to the home they live in today, the front house to the family business.

During college, Susan had joined the Church of the Savior, United Methodist Church. The Church has always been an integral part of her life. As a Lay Leader, she worked with and eventually chaired the Family Ministry Committee. She later became part of the Education Council and The Adult Council.

Sue Lanphear on Easter

Sue Lanphear on Easter

She taught a lot in the church and helped with the youth group that she and Lauren had been involved with in college. She remembers being drawn to the Church because she liked the community and the people and could tell it was "a good place to grow spiritually."

Around 1984 Susan enrolled in Cleveland State to earn her Masters Degree in Education. After the first semester, she realized she was pregnant and did not continue at CSU. Clare was born in 1985 and after that Susan briefly went to work as an Indoor Plant Maintenance person, taking care of plants in restaurants and offices. In 1988, she worked at the Heights Parents Center's Resource Center. There were 500 families and only three part-time workers in addition to Susan.

One of her accomplishments while she was there was the Toy Lending Library. The concept was the same as a standard library. A person could take out three toys at a time and then return them. "Toys are very expensive and children tire of them quickly. This was a unique concept and was staffed entirely by volunteers."

Lauren and Sue Lanphear in Megan's Bay

Lauren and Sue Lanphear enjoying Megan's Bay

Susan and Lauren went to Alaska for a two week vacation and Susan got very sick near the end of the trip. Even once she got back she was unable to get over it. The doctors agreed it was viral in nature but could not determine the cause.

She had been enrolled at a non-denominational Seminary, Ashland Seminary, but after the first semester, her illness forced her to drop out. She was very ill and virtually bed-ridden for two years.

Finally, she was diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS), which is a malfunction of the immune system triggered by a virus. Although she still has the disease, it is mostly in remission now.

Susan didn't work for quite awhile and did not re-enroll in the Seminary. "Actually, I was going for a degree in Pastoral Counseling, but did not have much interest in becoming a minister." Being sick was a major challenge for her because she thought the Seminary was her calling and she couldn't understand how this could have happened. But she also knew that God was in charge and she was merely following the plan He had for her.

The Lanphears on Arbor Day 2002

Sue and Lauren on Arbor Day 2002

In 1995 Susan took a position at the South Euclid Community Center working part time in programming, classes and staffing. She worked with the Summer Camp and special events like the annual Memorial Day Parade.

She is still involved in the parade, and since it steps off across the street from her house a lot of the participants, including the Indians mascot, Slider, often use her home as a readying spot.

In 1999, Susan got a job at the Church of the Savior as Director of Children's Ministries. It is a 1500 member Church with approximately 120 families and 120 children. She ran a Sunday school, vacation Bible school and mid-week program for the children. "My goal was to make worship more child-friendly and strengthen the connection between church and home."

WKYC Meteorologist Mark Nolan and Sue Lanphear

WKYC Meteorologist Mark Nolan and Sue Lanphear

She recognizes that people's lives are busy and hectic. "It's not the same as it was years ago when Sunday automatically meant a morning service. Parents need to adapt and accept a different role in the spiritual life of the family. I think there is an interest. Parents are receptive."

She sees the modern age as a challenging time for families and has a great deal of compassion for people trying to raise a family today. "I really feel parents need to be aware of the outside influences on the lives of their children."

Lauren Will, Susan and Clare Lanphear at Smith Bay

Lauren Will, Susan and Clare Lanphear at Smith Bay

She points out that kids in kindergarten now have an hour of homework each night and "there are extra-curricular activities and extra demands. Practices, games and academic pressures mount up even in the youngest children. Nobody gets to go home and play like we did. Time is too scheduled."

She is not a fan of standardized tests. "Children learn at different levels and times, especially something like reading."

Susan knows she was one of the lucky ones who could work and then take time off with her kids when needed. "You don't have that luxury if you're on a career track."

On May 1, 2007, Susan retired - at least officially. She finds herself in a transitional place in their lives. Her father died 2 years ago. Her mother is by herself now. Her daughter lives in New York. "Things are changing, rapidly."

She and Lauren have traveled a lot and with Lauren being the in-coming President of the International Society of Horticulturists there is a lot of traveling on the horizon. There past trips have always been exciting and the future trips are sure to be as well.

Sue Lanphear on horseback on the beach

Sue Lanphear on horseback on the beach

Last September they traveled to Scandinavia; Sweden, Denmark and Finland. "It was a trip I always wanted to take because my father's family is from Sweden." Susan still has some relatives there.

She found a very different lifestyle in the Scandinavian countries. "There is a much slower pace, less of a scramble." She also found there to be extremely high taxes and a lot of state run facilities.

Last Spring they were in Paris and have made a number of winter trips to the Caribbean.

The family also traveled to Zimbabwe, Africa with their Church. They spent one week at African University in Mutare. Lauren worked at building housing for the staff. Clare and Susan worked at an orphanage for children of AIDS infected families. Her son William worked with the University staff installing computers.

Lauren and Sue Lanphear at Tolum

Lauren and Sue Lanphear at Tolum

After the week of volunteer work, they had a week of traveling. "Victoria Falls was so amazing." They went on a one day Safari where Susan found the wildlife was also "amazing." The capital city of Harare, Zimbabwe was very different from the wilderness and actually has many modern buildings.

She has stayed in touch with some of the people she met; especially two of the students who are now graduates. Although she would love to go back again and help out, she knows it is not really safe to do so at this time.

Susan just recently returned from Hong Kong and Singapore, a trip she had also made in 1980. "Hong Kong has changed a lot since then. It is bigger and much more hectic. It somehow seemed "more Chinese".

She says Hong Kong and Singapore are very different experiences. Hong Kong is densely populated with very little English spoken. In Singapore, everyone speaks English. "They have a lot of American chain stores. In fact I spent an afternoon in Singapore in a Borders book store." In Singapore, she says people would stop and ask them if they could practice their English with them.

Sue Lanphear at Picara Point

Sue Lanphear at Picara Point

She was struck by the diverse Asian population "You could see the differences. There were also so many religions represented Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Christians."

They attended the Hong Kong Church of the Savior where the service was in Mandarin. Many years ago, Lauren's family had sent hymnals to this Church.

Susan is a gourmet cook so she is drawn to the many different foods wherever she travels. The chili crab in Singapore is almost a staple. Although she doesn't eat shellfish she tasted the sauce, which she really liked and had fried baby squid which, she says "tasted like peanuts."

Lauren and Susan Lanphear at a Rotary event

Lauren and Susan Lanphear at a Rotary event

She found the African food to be fairly bland, not very spiced. The premier food there is called Sudza, which is a very dense, hot porridge type food. Susan reports that they use the sudza almost like bread - they scoop it up and eat it with their fingers.

The African foods also had a lot of peanuts in them - especially peanut sauces. One dish she described as being greens with an almost peanut butter sauce on top and she especially liked that.

From the days when Zimbabwe was Rhodesia and owned by the English, they still served a typical English breakfast. Of course, there were also game foods such as wildebeest and antelope.

Mom Stone, Susan and Clare Lanphear

Mom Stone, Susan and Clare Lanphear

On her trip to Scandinavia, she ate reindeer which she really enjoyed and lots and lots of herring. "They are almost cult-like about their herring. It is made in so many different ways and served at every meal."

She remembers a smorgasbord that had seven kinds of herring as appetizers, multiple herring and fish choices as the entrée and at least two-thirds of the side dishes had herring in one form or another.

Michael Stanley and Sue Lanphear

Michael Stanley and Sue Lanphear

She does not actually collect anything specific but always tries to bring something back from a trip. Often it is a cookbook and indigenous spices.

She belongs to a gourmet cooking group with three other couples. They alternate homes and whenever it is her turn she tries to prepare something from somewhere they have been.

Sue and Lauren Lanphear with 25th anniversary cake

Sue and Lauren Lanphear with 25th anniversary cake

Susan says there are very few "peculiar or scary" incidents when they travel. "They are overall very good and we now have friends almost everywhere in the world."

She did have an odd and scary experience in her travels to the Czech Republic. As they walked to the Subway in Prague, an English-speaking man approached them and asked if they would show him something on the map. Lauren pointed out what he was looking for. They were immediately surrounded by police.

The police separated Lauren and Susan and the man. They let the man go. Their passports were a block away in the hotel. After a few minutes the police said they were sorry and left as quickly as they came.

"The most peculiar part was that we never saw them - they just appeared and then they were gone. We never found out what the story was. They just went away."

Sue and Lauren Lanphear

Sue and Lauren Lanphear

They have been to almost all fifty states missing only Alabama and Mississippi. Their favorite area to travel in the continental United States is the Pacific Northwest. Her dream trip would include Italy, Israel and Greece.

Susan describes herself as a "contemplative person". The most important element of her life is her faith. "It is a constant in my life and affects me daily. It is how I live my life. Following Christ is how I live my life." She spends some time in silent prayer every day trying to listen more to what God has to say to her.

Susan has an enormous library - she is a voracious reader. Not surprisingly, most of her books are spiritual in nature. "Some day my house may collapse from the weight of the books. I am always reading five or so at the same time."

Sue Lanphear at home

Sue Lanphear at home

She does some writing now, and expects to write more in the future. What she writes now is mainly prayers and essays that she does not feel are ready to be published.

Susan loves to garden and has the beautiful blooms all around her house as evidence. She finds the garden to be yet another expression of the goodness of God. "It is beauty and life all together."

Susan Sue Lanphear in garden in 2007

Sue Lanphear in her garden in 2007

She further describes herself as an introvert rather than an extrovert, but admits she has learned to do things as an act of faith. A good example of this is Liturgical Dance. She belongs to an ensemble group at her church. The group dances during the worship service as a further expression of their worship.

Although it seems counter-intuitive for an introvert, she explains, "I had been doing it in private for about four to six months; just working with a choreographer. Then we were told we were going to actually do the dance in a service and I said I just couldn't do that. I was told if I wanted to be part of the group, I had to be willing to do it as part of a real Liturgy. So I had to find a way. I decided to do it as an offering to God the same as leading the prayers or reading Scripture."

Sue Lanphear in Liturgical Dance Group

Sue Lanphear (back right) in Liturgical Dance Group

When she had her first experience doing Liturgical Dance during a service she says, "I thought I would throw up." But that was many years ago and since then she says, "I learned to let God handle it and take over."

She believes that if someone asks her to do something like that, they are asking her on behalf of God and she must find a way to do it. She says, "I do it with God." Liturgical dance became very important to Susan and has greatly impacted her spiritual life. Others have told her they find it enriching.

Now that Susan has "retired", she knows she will miss teaching the children the most. She has experienced many tremendous spiritual moments during times with children. As she explains various liturgical events, she is awed by their innocence and quick grasp of the basics of spirituality.

Sue and Lauren Lanphear

Sue and Lauren Lanphear

She remembers vividly one Lent when she told a group of youngsters about the Crucifixion and Resurrection. "They were horrified that people would hurt Jesus and didn't like Him. They could relate to that. But then they were so excited to hear about the Resurrection! I was very privileged to have had that opportunity, and so many others, with the children."

Susan looks to women of all ages to start being kinder and gentler to themselves. "It is great to be motivated and have goals and a purpose. But it is not great to try to do it all. The thing that gets dropped off is self. Once that happens you are not good for anybody."

Susan and Clare Lanphear

Susan and Clare Lanphear

She explains that the most important thing a married woman can do for her children is to have a good marriage. "I don't think it is good for children to be the center of their parents' life. There must be something left of the marriage after the children grow and move on."

Lauren and Sue Lanphear

Lauren and Sue Lanphear

Her order of importance would be as follows: 1st her relationship with Christ; 2nd her relationship with her husband and; 3rd her relationship with her children. She is quick to emphasize that she is not advocating neglecting or ignoring your children. "Bringing children into the world is an awesome responsibility and one to be taken very, very seriously."

Sue Lanphear in June 2007

Sue Lanphear in June 2007

It has been said that some people belong in a 'gentler time." Susan Lanphear may be one of those people. She is quiet, introspective and very spiritual and is surrounded by a fast-paced world. Yet she is at peace with herself and most importantly, her God. Whatever happens in the world around her will not even challenge, let alone disrupt, the peace she finds in her faith and her family.

Susan, like her garden, is a beautiful, living example of a spiritual life.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson (7/07)

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