Act One- It's 9:05 AM on a quiet Sunday in Newark, Ohio. Enter stage right-Susan Gary Collis Bousliman- Born June 7, 1942, in Newark, Ohio to her accomplished parents Harry Orville and Dorthy Jane Collis. Sue enters with beauty and grace and immediately fills the world with her presence.
Sue played many roles in her life…quilter, daughter, grandchild, wife, sister, friend, grandmother, actress, seamstress, camper, archaeologist, educator, gourmet chef, activist, the ultimate Ohio State fan, athlete, holder of a Masters degree, collector of antiques, indomitable cancer fighter, and most of all- she was our devoted mother, loving wife to Charles, and all of our teacher. But what made Sue amazing was not just the roles she filled but the way she played them…with inspiration, brilliance, style, beauty and love.
As a child, she was the watchful and ever responsible older sister to Hank Collis, Jane Yeoman and Emily Norton. She was an accomplished student who possessed a voracious appetite for books and learning. She helped her younger siblings navigate their own childhoods as much as she helped herself and for that she was always proud. After attending over a dozen primary and secondary schools, Sue graduated from Newark High School in 1962. Next, she enrolled at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio.
Act Two-In the fall of 1963, Sue met a man from Montana named Charles W. Bousliman. The Ohio State theater department became the backdrop of their budding relationship. Sue and Charlie shared their first kiss on stage while performing A Phoenix Too Frequent. Only seconds after that kiss they shared their first disagreement, this one centering on theatre kissing etiquette. It seemed Montana mirrored France more than Ohio in this regard.
If not found starring in lead roles in the OSU theatre department, including The Fantastics or Our Town, Sue could be found working at the Columbus poverty clinic, a local television station, or perhaps you could have found her working on one of countless Native American Indian mounds throughout the Midwest as she became an accomplished archeologists.
Act Three-Sue and Charles married in 1967 and had three children, Jennifer, Jared and Jason. Sue gave up a career on Broadway at the Lincoln Center to take on her most important role as the most amazing mother to her three children whom she treasured above all else. They bought an old farm house circa 1828 in Carlisle, PA, and spent the next forty years renovating in into their ultimate masterpiece and the backdrop for Jennifer, Jared and Jason's idyllic childhood.
She instilled in her three children a sense of wonder and excitement about the world. She read to them, took them river rafting, taught in their classrooms and taught them even more at home or in the mountains of Wyoming. She always made sure we felt full of more love than we knew what to do with. She taught us how to love and be loved. She taught us laughter and how no dream was ever too big. After raising her children and always being home for us after school, Sue was a college professor at Shippensburg University and Elizabethtown College and became a pioneer of non-traditional students and distance education.
Her kitchen was always warm and filled with wafting aromas of amazing foods from around the world. When she wasn't busy in the kitchen, she could be found at her quilting frame in the studio. There she pieced together and hand-quilted some of the finest quilts you will ever see. She favored star patterns with modern flares and subtle southwest influences. Each quilt is a true work of art.
Act Four- Motherhood is eternal—even after sending her children off on their own adventures, she remained a constant guiding presence. When not sharing in her children's victories, Sue loved going to auctions, spending time in Williamsburg, and quiet afternoons sitting at her quilting frame where she made over 500 quilts in her lifetime. She sewed everything by hand and even won a coveted first place quilting prize at the Shaker Village (one which Charlie entered for her without her knowledge).
She passed on to her next Act on November 30, 2015, while warmed by one of her own quilts and comforted by Ohio State's most recent shellacking of that "team from up north." She passed with the same beauty, dignity and grace she lived by and did so on her own terms. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Charles Bousliman, her children and their spouses, Jennifer Bousliman and Shawn DeLisio, Jared Bousliman and Anne Kalunian, and Jason Bousliman and Cristin Heyns-Bousliman, and her precious grandchildren, Collis Bousliman, Elle Bousliman and Shea DeLisio, all of whom were by her side as she passed after an eleven year fight with cancer. During her fight, she doubled the life expectancy of her condition and undoubtedly saved countless lives by proving the success of several clinical trial treatments. Not once did she define herself by her condition or complain. It was in this fight that she taught us her most valuable lessons of humility, humor, and perseverance. Those words no longer are without context in our lives.
She has left us to cheer on the Buckeyes and make quilts from a perch with a better view. She will always be with us. We will always be grateful. We will all see her again.
Susan would not want you to spend money on flowers or gifts, but instead would ask that you remember her by cooking a meal with someone you love, going camping, learning to quilt, mentoring someone, reading a book, and enjoying your precious life, just as she did.
We love you Mom.