OAKLAND, Calif. — Susan passed away surrounded by loving friends and family on March 16, 2013, at her home in Oakland, Calif., following a near-year-round battle with cancer.
She was born May 10, 1963, and spent her childhood in Metuchen, N.J., and Cooperstown.
Susan entered Cornell University as an interior designer major and later transferred into and graduated with a B.S. degree from its School of Hotel Administration. She later gained a culinary certificate from Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, a city she loved and lived in until 2011. Her interest in natural foods led her to gain a horticulture certificate from the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology.
Susan was blessed with many talents and wove them into a diverse life, rich in purpose and successes. She was a senior buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, where her success led her to be headhunted for the position of buyer/merchandiser at Banana Republic. She later moved on to Williams Sonoma and ended her purchasing career in search of high-end collectibles for Cost Plus World Market in San Francisco.
Seeking a career change, she became a vegetarian cook at Green’s famous vegetarian restaurant in the Presidio in San Francisco, where she was discovered and hired by Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs to be his family’s personal chef. Susan later capped her culinary career as a pastry cook at Alice Water’s world-renowned Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, Calf.
Susan was a co-founder of the Greenwoods Conservancy, a 1,200 acre nature preserve and SUNY research site near Cooperstown and chaired the gifting committee of its parent foundation. She currently served on and previously chaired the board of directors of The Pie Ranch, an Alameda, Calif., based land trust.
Susan volunteered and taught at Edible Schoolyard, a multi-city program established and supported by the Chez Panisse Foundation to teach urban, middle school children the values of organic food production, sound diet, land stewardship and community.
Susan was a lifelong endurance athlete, cyclist, distance runner and lover of wilderness pursuits. She enjoyed gardening in small places and eclectically maintained a beehive at her home.
She had a keen eye for design and where others saw objects, Susan saw art.
She was a dedicated and devoted friend to many and leaves hundreds behind who treasure their times together and are grateful for her example of a life well lived.
Her spontaneity, zest for life, deep sense of personal integrity, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, creativity, positive outlook, thirst for knowledge and her ability to find humor that was never at the expense of others, endeared her to all of those around her. Her personal philosophy was that ‘the school is life, the lesson is love.’
Susan is survived by her parents, Cynthia and Earle Peterson of Cooperstown and Metuchen, N.J.; a brother, James Peterson; sister-in-law, Myrna Peterson; and nephew, Joseph Peterson, all of Fly Creek; an uncle and aunt, Robert and Edith Tschorn of New Town, Conn.; and cousins, David, John, Daniel and Donald Peterson, Melanie Ruff, Julie Seabury and Jennifer Stevens.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at the Fly Creek Methodist Church. Following the service, her ashes will be interred at a celebration of her life to be held at Greenwoods, the family ancestral home, where she will rejoin her much loved golden Retriever, Waverly.