Suzanne Patricia Baldwin, 73
SIERRA VISTA — Suzanne arrived on Jan 24, 1947, the fourth of six children born to Robert and Lucille (Antcliff) Murphy in Duluth, Minnesota. Raised in large part by her mother alone, she learned by example the value of self-reliance, hard work, resilience in the face of adversity, a willingness to try new paths, and to have a persistently positive outlook on her world.
When she was young, her mother relocated to the Los Angeles area, where Suzanne earned her high school diploma and immediately entered the workforce, engaging in a succession of jobs with small manufacturing concerns. She married and then divorced but maintained a cordial relationship with her ex-husband, Robert Moore, until his passing in Florida early this year. She became a single mom and adapted, determined to do so on her own without public assistance as much as possible. Thanks to her stepfather, Johnny, she became interested in square dancing in an area where world-class callers served many local clubs.
One of her older brothers had gone to Alaska to work on a crab boat around the time her mother passed in 1987. Now, she thought commercial fishing was worth a try, and the money was good, so she landed a job on a factory trawler, moved with her adult daughter, Laura, to Washington state, and worked in the Bering Sea processing pollock. Eventually she moved from the factory to a housekeeping position on the boat. She came to love being on the ocean and would return to it for many ‘rotations’ of three to six months each.
Her ex-husband had remarried and moved to Bisbee, and Suzanne found the idea of alternating northern waters with the arid southwest attractive. Soon, B Street had a new homeowner, and the nearest square dance club in Sierra Vista gained a Plus-level dancer who popped in for a while every so often. Attending was another newbie to the area, who now was trying to adapt late in his working life to a civil service career after getting kicked out of the woods with his peers just as he was getting too old for the physical demands of logging in California. This rough-cut recluse had been squared up by the headrig but had dodged both the planer and the kiln, and was beginning to accept life-long bachelorhood. Now he was a fish out of water, and Suzanne rose to a new challenge, perhaps unintentionally, with a smile he won’t ever forget. Fortunately for this fish, Mike Sikorsky, one of those world-class callers Suzanne had known and loved in Southern California, was scheduled to call a dance in Snowflake and we decided to take part. So began what became a marriage of more than 26 years.
During that time, Suzanne rejoiced at the arrivals of the rest of her grandchildren, and faced and beat back many serious health problems, more than one of which would have scarred a lesser soul. Each time, if a full recovery would not come, she adapted. The fishing trips had to end so she learned cosmetology, her grandmother’s vocation, at DeVoe College of Beauty. Between booth renting intervals at the beginning and end of the 15-year career that followed, she had her own salons, first in Hereford and then in Sierra Vista. A final trip to Alaska, our delayed honeymoon, occurred when the opportunity arose many years into our marriage.
Finally, a couple of years ago, her physical challenges became too much for us to manage at home and she took up residence at what would become Haven Health. At first, she battled more new threats, including an infection that was very resistant to antibiotics and then a stroke scare. She won both, thanks to dedicated caregivers who went on to prevent new problems from arising. Then came COVID-19. She tested positive for the first time about two days before she passed on July 19, 2020. Now, she has joined her mother and from a lofty perch looks down at her family, friends and Haven’s heroes…and smiles.
She is survived by husband Tom (and “Schatzi”, now 13), of Hereford, daughter Laura Shuck, grandchildren Stuart Harakal (Amanda), Dylan Armenta and Abigail Fisher, and Stuart and Amanda’s son, William, her great-grandchild, all of Tucson. Due to the pandemic, no services will be held. It is her family’s desire that those who knew her make an extra effort to take care of themselves and their loved ones each time she comes to mind.