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Susan Heiss

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Heiss, Susan Anne 67, of Naperville, IL, "Susie" to her friends, passed away peacefully in the early morning on July 26, 2014, at the Seasons Hospice when her heart stopped while she was sleeping. She had been there almost two weeks, unable to speak, eat, or move about in any way, but she was able to smile and hear when friends and family visited as they were allowed 24-7 or when a phone call was put to her ear. Born on November 17, 1946, in Berlin, Wisconsin, Susie was the first child of Margaret Anne Swetting and Herbert Louis Heiss. With a killer smile, she was curious and adventurous, and so precocious that when she was three, her parents sometimes had to put a harness on her to stop her from joyfully running to "twains and doggies." When she was nine, now with two siblings, her family moved to New Martinsville, West Virginia. With sixty-five acres to explore, Susie was in heaven. All sorts of animals became pets. As much as she loved her horse, Susie's favorite was the six-foot black snake she often wore, draped around her shoulders. Susie took up sketching all these creatures, and was very good at it. She also developed her love of gardening and photography. During high school, Susie's lifelong health problems emerged. Diagnosed first with gout, she graduated from high school in 1965 as an honor roll student. At 21, she was working through the West Virginia University pre-veterinary program when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. But she was in love, never complained, and was doing what she loved. She graduated from college and was married in 1969 in New Martinsville. The couple moved to Naperville, IL. Susie was thrilled to be planting flowers around her house and found a new passion in cooking. She began working with veterinarian Dr. Goldenson of Naperville and also for the Chicago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She was thrilled to be planting flowers and finding a new passion in cooking. However the disease was spreading. 1973 brought the first surgery. No longer able to carry or restrain the larger dogs, she had to leave the clinic. Still optimistic, she offered herself to the labs as a guinea pig for carefully monitored tests, even taking gold. Some of the tests worked, allowing her periods of remission from the disease. One of the casualties of her disease was the end of her marriage in 1981. To support herself, she became a companion during the day to an elderly woman and worked part-time for the Nichols Library's new children's program until more operations were needed on her hands and she could no longer continue working with the library. In 1983, Susie started her own excellent dog and cat sitting service, which was very successful because she engineered a belt that allowed her to work hands free as the dogs' leashes could be hooked onto her belt. In 1990, she moved to the Charles Court apartments. While walking the dogs, she discovered a new way to serve her neighbors by joining the community radio watch guardians, which she did from 1991 until 1995. Unfortunately she had to give up both the radio watch and her beloved dog sitting in 1995 because of a spinal surgery that was meant to correct a severe scoliosis and ameliorate her constant pain and nausea. Instead, she was left with the pain and nausea, and her spine was now bent parallel to the ground. Ever the problem solver, she immediately began to redo the entire apartment so she could function in it. The heartbreak was she could no longer reach the cages of the birds she had loved for years. She gave them to a good friend. Independent life became more difficult as additional medical problems arose, but she always found a way to continue her crafts, photography and needlework and to continue her love affair with nature, music, and art. Now she has no medical problems. Now she is with her beloved mother, father, friends, and beasties that she has sorely missed. Now she is in glory. She is survived by her brother, Peter Louis Heiss of Columbus, Ohio; and Christie Heiss of Ancram, New York. A memorial celebration in loving honor of her life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 23, 2014, at Charles Court, 300 North Charles Street, Naperville, IL. In lieu of flowers, memorial offerings may be made in Susie's name to your local humane society.
Published in Naperville Sun on Aug. 17, 2014
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