Saying goodbye too soon

By SARAH BRADBURY                                        

How do you say goodbye to someone you knew for a short time who taught you so much? We at The Southwest Times are going to have to find the answer to that question as we deal with the passing of our fearless leader, Susan Carter.

I met Susan, or “Sue,” as most of us called her, not even a year ago. I was hired to be a part time reporter by then managing editor, Travis Handy. Travis left the area and he and Sue agreed that I would take his position. This meant more to me than I could have ever expressed at the time. Not the promotion, but the fact that someone believed in me. Sue made me feel like I was better than I felt at the time. She helped me to realize my potential and fight for what I wanted.

She was a born leader, I gleaned from some of the stories she told me, too many to recall here. She raised three children on her own and worked as many jobs as she had to in order to keep everything going. She was so proud of her family. Everyone in the office knew how she felt about her children and her grandchildren, and her loving husband, Tom.

Sue commanded respect from anyone who encountered her, yet she never really felt like a boss to me because she was so approachable and human. That’s not to say she didn’t lose her temper a time or two over a problem with the paper, because she did, her intense devotion to her career and the product being the driving force behind it. But whenever any issues arose at work, as soon as they were dealt with, she was ready to buy lunch for everyone, or get one of us a birthday cake. We always have a reason for cake at the paper.

Sue had certain phrases that will forever stick out in my mind. For instance, any time we had a bad news story (you know, one of those you love to hate and wish wasn’t on the front page, but who are you kidding, that’s why you bought that edition in the first place?), she would always say, “If it bleeds it leads.” Or any time someone would call the office complaining about the content of a story, she coached us to say, “We don’t make the news, we report the news.” I’ve had to pull that one out on numerous occasions.

I honestly believe she loved all of us at the paper. She was never too busy to welcome any one of us into her office to unload any of our stresses, pour our hearts out, or even laugh and cut up and tell jokes.

Sue mentored anyone she had the chance to mentor. One time, I kid you not, I heard her give a kind and concerned pep talk to a woman who had been arrested for prostitution. She took the quick phone opportunity to reach out to her and offer her some words of wisdom, rather than to condemn her. She did not judge.

She also had a heart of gold. When the community felt the chilling loss of baby Cory Cole, Sue was at the center of the storm, offering anything and everything she had to give to help find justice for him. That story really hit home with her, as she had also lost a child – a child she is holding again now.

Sue was very strong in her Christian beliefs, and there is no doubt that she is peacefully resting with her God, and her son, right now. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God had plans for her and now she is home. She is achieving her future and living out her eternal hope.

Sometimes people come into our lives and we know there is a deeper reason than chance behind the encounter. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Whether you are a believer or not, I can’t deny that something bigger than any of us caused my path to converge with Sue’s, and I am eternally grateful for that.

Rest in peace, Sue.



One Response to Saying goodbye too soon

  1. Tina Grimshaw

    June 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to Sue and the community she loved so much

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