Susanne R. Turner, 40, poet and writer

June 25, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Susanne R. Turner, a poet and writer who taught at the University of Louisville and at Towson University, died of breast cancer Sunday at her home in Louisville, Ky. The former Charles Village resident was 40.

She was born Susanne Ragland in Summersville, W. Va., grew up in Charles Village and was a 1982 graduate of Eastern High School.

She earned a bachelor's degree in 1986 in English and a master's degree in 1988 from what is now Towson University.

A writer of poetry and prose, Mrs. Turner had served as editor of an edition of Grub Street, Towson University's literary magazine.

"Susie was one of the most memorable, amazing and brilliant students. She was such a life force," said Clarinda Harriss, a poet and English department chairwoman at Towson University. "The theme of her poetry was closely observed human relationships, and she made great use of her roots but was never cynical."

After leaving Towson University in 1991 where she had been a teaching assistant, she moved to Louisville where she taught composition, business and technical writing part time at the University of Louisville, where she was also a doctoral candidate.

At her death, she was completing her dissertation on business writing.

Mrs. Turner had self-published The Fret and Other Poems, regularly contributed to literary quarterlies such as Appalachian Heritage, completed a semi-autobiographical novel, and performed her poetry.

Mrs. Turner enjoyed decorating, and she liked searching antiques shops and yard sales for Blue Willow chinaware.

She was also a master bridge player, and liked playing Scrabble and working in her flower and vegetable garden.

"Susie's Charles Village rowhouse demonstrated her wild and wonderful interior decorating skills, and she was also known for an annual mint julep party that she and her husband held in there," Ms. Harriss said yesterday.

Mrs. Turner was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.

"Susie participated in many clinical trials at Purdue University with hopes of helping find a cure for breast cancer," said her sister, Patty Snyder of Bel Air.

She was a former member of Lovely Lane United Methodist Church and was an active member of the First Unitarian Church in Louisville, where she served on the church council and taught religious education.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. July 17 at her church in Louisville.

Mrs. Turner is also survived by her husband of 24 years, Malcolm P. Turner; two daughters, Elanor Ann Turner, 3 1/2 years old, and Emily Rose Turner, 22 months, all of Louisville; her mother, Charlotte Ragland of Richwood, W. Va.; two brothers, Rodney P. Ragland Jr. of Cape May, N.J., and David E. Ragland of Melbourne, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews.

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