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Posts tagged: Susie Forest

Planting memories

Nancy MacKerrow has now planted 120 trees throughout the world (but most of them in Spokane) in honor of her daughter, Susie, killed when hit by a bus in St. Louis in 2002.

On the Susie Forest website, MacKerrow explains the project. She sometimes finds people in the community she wishes to personally honor through a tree donation.  She was taken with Carol Speltz, a woman I wrote about in December, who has Alzheimer's disease and is very public about it, along with her husband Karl Speltz.

Both were well-known educators and both are now educating friends, neighbors and strangers about the disease.

The tree was planted near Hutton School in a triangle of green known as Olmsted Park, though it's truly a greenspace rather than a park.

Nancy showed those gathered (about 10 of us) several photos of Susie biking, climbing, smiling. She showed maps of where the trees stand in Susie Forest. She handed out strips of paper to write messages on and place on the bare limbs of the new tree.

Carol and Nancy hugged several times throughout the gathering, tears gathering in their eyes, no words need be spoken.

 In loss of all kinds, there is beauty and grace and understanding beyond words. I felt honored to be there.  

(In the photo, from the left, Carl Speltz, Nancy MacKerrow and Carol Speltz)

Growing grief: The Susie Forest

Nancy MacKerrow, a Spokane woman, lost her daughter Susie Stephens in 2002 when she was hit by a bus in St. Louis. She was 36, a bicyclist, a mountain climber, a world traveler and an activist, ironically, for the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Nancy took the enormous grief and used it for a greater good. She is planting Susie's Forest all over the world, but especially in Spokane on city streets and in parks.

She paid for some of the 119 trees herself or others pay as memorials to people who have died. Nancy always shows up at the ceremonies with cookies.

Nancy was in action today at Lewis and Clark High School, helping students with a tree-replanting project.

(About the S-R photographer Dan Pelle photo: Lewis and Clark High School drama students, Liz Connelly, 17, and Jon O'Grady hang messages on one of six trees along 6th Avenue between Washington and Stevens Streets, March 25, 2011 in Spokane, Wash.  After hearing about the Spokane Public Schools' replanting project, Nancy MacKerrow (right), of Spokane, whose daughter, Suzie Stephens, an LC grad who was killed while crossing a street and hit by a bus in 2002, helped gather students from the drama, advanced art ecology, special education, debate and Japanese Club to plant trees and adorn them with tree-grams.)

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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