Susan Margery Gotshall-Maxon died on Feb. 16, 2023, at home, as she had wanted, surrounded and supported by the love of her family and close friends.
She was born on Dec. 4, 1953, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to R. Jordan Gotshall and Margery Jeanne Gotshall.
Susan attended Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she received a degree with departmental honors, in government. She also attended Dartmouth College for two summer terms where she met her future husband, Lee Maxon. The two were inseparable from the start and married a week after they graduated from college. They were 21 years old and off on the adventure of their lives. After a wedding in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, they went on a honeymoon that had them camping in many of the Western national parks from Yellowstone to Glacier, from Olympic National Park to the Grand Canyon. They then moved to Philadelphia where Susan worked as a claims correspondent with Colonial Penn Franklin Insurance. After a wonderful couple of years in Philadelphia, Susan and Lee moved to San Francisco where Susan worked at Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center in patient accounts. She soon headed the department of 100 employees and also became the chairperson of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. While balancing these activities, she also earned an MBA from Golden Gate University and held things together while Lee attended law school.
A few years later, Susan and Lee moved to Marin County where Susan helped to manage a group of doctors after which she started her own consulting business. She was gifted at reorganizing how people got their work done and she had a knack for training people to use and embrace new systems.
As her career unfolded, Susan and Lee created a family. Beth was born in 1986, and Will followed in 1987.
As the kids got older, Susan became interested in college admissions and became a college admissions advisor for several schools and many individual students. She loved this work and she was good at helping students and their parents find what Susan described as a college that would be a “good fit.” Former students would make it a point to say hello and thank her for help received years earlier in selecting a college.
Susan loved hiking the trails around Marin with her “hiking buddies”—a group of women and their dogs who hiked and shared their life stories, as they unfolded, twice a week, most weeks, for over 25 years. Building on this love of hiking, Susan trained for and climbed Half Dome as a fundraiser for cancer research. Susan was also an active biking enthusiast and rode in many biking fundraisers, including two 100-mile rides around Lake Tahoe.
Susan felt it important to give back by volunteering: she provided a home for Guide Dog breeders and volunteered at Guide Dogs for the Blind; she volunteered for AARP in assisting seniors with their tax returns; she worked as a polling inspector; she served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church; and, she mentored students who were first in their families to attend college. During the pandemic she made hundreds of lunches that St. Vincent’s could give to the homeless.
Susan developed and pursued many passions and hobbies: domestic and international travel, long road trips, photography, scrapbooking, sewing, remodeling/rebuilding two homes in San Rafael, identifying birds and wildflowers, skiing, snowshoeing, and fly fishing. She loved maps, libraries, picnicking, football, great reads, her family and her many friends. She was passionate about voting, being a good citizen, taking care of the environment and participating in the political process. She was smart and thoughtful, never arrogant, and skillful in helping people find their way. She had an infectious sense of fun and she was wonderful at entertaining friends and family including creating wonderful meals, stimulating conversations and a warm, welcoming environment.
On the road trips that Susan and Lee often took to Idaho and other destinations, they could talk for the entire 12-hour drive without ever putting on the radio and without ever running out of things to say. Susan would often sit in the passenger seat, when not driving, with a map, notebook and calendar in hand and together they would plan and share their observations about life and the future.
Susan was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, and aunt and she was a proud grandmother. She lived her life with great love and compassion for her family and friends. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a rare form of medullary thyroid cancer in 2021 and, despite many medical interventions and procedures, she died of complications from this cancer.
As noted, Susan loved to cook and she often asked her family if a particular dish was “have againable” and, if so, whether it was “good, great, excellent or Wow!” As measured by the love she spread about her, by the love and support of the family and friends she leaves behind, and by the many lives of colleagues and students that she assisted and encouraged, Susan’s life was a “Wow!” We are all far better because she was in our lives and we will all miss her more than words can convey.
Susan is survived by her husband, Lee Gotshall-Maxon; her children, Elizabeth [Beth] Gorham and William Gotshall-Maxon; their spouses, Adam Gorham and Tamar Gotshall-Maxon; and two grandchildren, Clara and John [Jack] Gorham. Susan is also survived by her brother, David Gotshall; his wife, Karen; their three children, Linda, Steven and Timothy, and by their spouses and children.
A celebration of her life will be held in San Rafael, California, on May 21, 2023, at 4 p.m. For details (and to assist us in planning) please email your name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know if you will be attending in person or will need information to attend by Zoom/Streaming. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Cancer Society in her honor. To make such donations call 1-800-227-2345 or donate at cancer.org