CELEBRATING SUSAN’S LEGACY
Susan Klopfer’s Life
by Fred Klopfer
Before I knew her, Susan was born in Salem, Oregon to John and Betty Orr. John was a career school superintendent, and Betty was a both a writer and for a time, a very successful realtor. Susan was the second of three daughters with Bette six years older and Kathleen six years younger. As the middle child, Susan was the ultimate peacekeeper among the daughters.
I first met Susan when we were both nineteen years old. At that time she was living with her older sister in Newburg, Oregon. She was due to return to Nevada, the state in which she completed high school in Ely, Nevada, and at various times worked on the town newspaper as a reporter or was a college student at the University of Nevada in Reno. I met her through a common friend, Cliff Goodrich who had been friend since I was twelve, and who had known Susan as a fellow student at the University of Nevada in Reno. I was immediately intrigued by her and interested in her. As it turned out, she had been both a high school cheerleader and a member of a sorority. Both of these characteristics would have ordinarily repelled me at that time, as they both suggested that she was an in-group member, and I certainly was not. But despite that, she seemed quite interesting. Cliff and I were traveling from Reno to Milwaukie and Oak Grove, Oregon where our families of origin were living at the time.
After periodically visiting and dating here in Reno, she moved to live with me in Lubbock, Texas, where I was a graduate student. We got married the following May 13, 1972 at the site of a vacation home outside of Ely, Nevada. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful outdoor wedding with birds making love in the trees, Kathleen playing guitar and singing, and everyone eating barbequed turkeys and drinking burgundy.
We were dressed appropriately for the times, with Susan looking beautiful in a dress adorned with lace from her grandmother’s wedding dress.
Over the years we have lived in a lot of places – Lubbock, Texas; Elko and Ely, Nevada; Moores Hill, Indianapolis, and Kendallville, Indiana; Parchman, Mississippi; Mount Pleasant and Fort Madison, Iowa; Hollister (Branson area) Missouri; Gallup, New Mexico; and Cuenca, Ecuador. Susan always found interesting people and interesting things to do. She was a newspaper reporter – award winning – on several newspapers, ran an RSVP program, wrote technical manuals for farming software, taught software to both college students and corporation employees and other things as well. We were also the proud parents of our son, Barry Klopfer.
Most prominently Susan has been an author. First she wrote a strong of computer books when she worked as an editor at Prentice-Hall. Later she wrote a series of civil rights history books. More recently she began writing civil rights historical fiction books, based in large part on our experiences living in Parchman, Mississippi on the grounds of what is now the Mississippi State Penitentiary, and was formerly and famously known as Parchman Prison.
She affected my life in any number of important ways. She lived did anything in moderation. She wrote about how Branson had tied up 80% of all of Missouri’s industrial revenue bonds to build a 17 mile road to Silver Dollar City (two counties away from Branson), while also planning to provide the resort with free water treatment. She wrote about cold case murders in Mississippi. She interviewed Lucy Bird Johnson, Birch Bayh, and Sarah Weddington (on of two lawyers to win in Roe v. Wade), and many others.
She gave me friends. Anywhere we lived I was usually known at “Susan’s husband” or “Barry’s father.”
She was enthusiastic about travel, and seeing new places. I remember once vising Budapest, Hungary and East Berlin. In both countries we got along with high school Spanish, French, German, and/or English. She were anxious at times, such as trying for the longest time before figuring out how to work the washing machines in a Budapest laundromat, or being in a sketchy neighborhood in Hannover, Germany as it was turning dark and we were looking for a Bed and Breakfast place.
She loved animals, and our pets sometimes received undeserved priorities. They still do.
I miss her greatly – the house is much too quiet.