Susan Karen (Nyberg) Mays
Susan (“Susi”) passed away May 21, 2022, at her home in Deerfield, IL, attended by her husband Bill and sons Michael and Brian.
She was born December 24, 1945, in Madison, Wisconsin, to parents Hazel and Nils Nyberg. She grew up in Portage, Wisconsin and after high school graduation, relocated to Madison to attend business school classes, and took a sales position in a women’s clothing store. Outgoing, confident, and charming, Susan developed a flair for selling, but it was her natural enthusiasm and stand-out work ethic that opened doors to progressively responsible positions, often without formal training. It was in Madison in 1965 that Susan met Bill, and one year later, on June 11, 1966, they were married in Portage.
Susan was an avid reader all her life, and often had several books going at the same time. Most of the books that Bill considered his “classics” were actually recommended by Susan.
If we define “common sense” as rational thinking, prudent judgment, distinguishing the pertinent from the irrelevant, and simplifying murky or complex issues, we have also defined Susan. Common sense was her forte, and many a costly error – whether financial, social, or matters of the heart – was averted, thanks to her instincts and acumen.
She loved gardening and a wide spectrum of music genres. She was a resourceful and out-of-this-world cook. She enjoyed flea markets, antique malls and estate sales, and had an “eagle eye” for high quality bargains. It was said she could furnish a 7-room house for $25, drapes and carpets included!
Susan steadfastly adhered to a strict moral and ethical code, always striving to set an example for family, friends, and coworkers. “The principle of the thing” was applied frequently, in large ways and small. Shortly after 9/11, she insisted Bill drive her to New York to personally put in the hands of a Fireman, a donation to the FDNY Widows’ and Children’s Fund. Mailing it in just wouldn’t be good enough.
She had a nimble sense of humor, and a sincere and infectious laugh. Warm-hearted and tolerant, she could be feisty and resolved when principles were challenged.
Less known, and probably under-appreciated was her dedication to genealogy. She was almost entirely self-taught, relying on census records – wherever they could be found – newspaper notices, library and courthouse archives, ship manifests, an untold number of communications to potential relations, and often, searches in remote and overgrown cemeteries. Based on Susan’s phenomenal work, two close cousins organized a family reunion for the McClure-Mays branch of the family. Held at a State Park and Resort adjacent to Kentucky Lake, over 150 relations attended, some coming as far as the West Coast, and I’m proud to say, Susan was asked to be the keynote speaker.
Susan was a loving mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and sister-in-law, and aunt; an honorable and affectionate spouse; and a loyal friend. She was a mentor not only to her entire family, but to the friends of her sons as well.
She loved babies and puppies, birdwatching, art museums, and nighttime drives through downtown Chicago. But most of all, she cherished her family – near and far – and the friends who stuck with her through thick and thin.
Susan was special in so many ways and on so many levels. She was an “original”, leaving huge gaps in many of our lives. She will be sorely missed.
Susan is survived by her husband, Bill, sons Michael and Brian, and grandchildren Vanessa and Jeremy.
In Portage, Wisconsin, there will be a Memorial Service for close family at Oak Grove Cemetery on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., with Chaplain Thomas Drury officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Orphans of the Storm Animal Shelter, 2200 Riverwoods Road, Deerfield, IL 60015.