Susanne Cutler Williams died peacefully on August 6, 2023, at the age of 92, following a long and joyfilled life. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, of Rosina and Vaughn Cutler, she was instilled with a sense of loyalty, ambition, and love. These values permeated throughout her life, helping grow her passions forwords, music, and family during these impactful 92 years. Susanne attended East High School, where she impressively graduated in 3 years. Gentle perseverance and patience helped her to conquer not only these young academic goals but educational pursuits throughout her life.
After high school Susanne attended the University of Utah. During her freshman year, she met F.Bennett (Ben) Williams. She in a sorority, he in a fraternity, they were set up on a date that didn’t go well. Three years later, in their senior year, they reconnected and started a relationship. Susanne earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and graduated in 1952. After graduation Susanne held a job as a flight attendant, a beloved position that offered a sense of community and adventure. In December of 1952 she and Ben were married. Susanne left the airline industry and began building their family. Susanne, alongside Ben, raised their three children – Mark Bennett, Brent Cutler, and Anne Shaeffer Williams – through nearly a dozen moves and homes in all regions of the United States, spending the longest period in Hartsville, South Carolina from 1980 to 2006. She was a devoted, gracious mother, and later became an adoring grandmother to four grandchildren.
Throughout her life, Susanne remained passionate about the importance of education, instilling a commitment to higher learning in the entire family. At the age of 50, she went back to school, attending Lake Forest College along with her daughter, Anne. There, Susanne earned a Masters in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Eastern Religions. She then began a 14-year career at Coker College as a College Administrator, where she ran the off-campus internship program in Cooperative Education. Ever committed to two-way cultural exchange, she eventually led and expanded the semester abroad program to create the only undergraduate international exchange program with equal numbers of students and faculty coming to, and going from, the college.
Susanne and Ben loved to travel, and they visited countries around the world with their friends and family. Susanne was an avid baseball and tennis fan. In particular, she was a devoted supporter of the Atlanta Braves, Willie Mays, and Roger Federer. She and Ben often traveled to tennis tournaments and baseball games. During the ball games Susanne would track the score with pencil and scoresheet!
Music was a centerpiece in her life. As a young girl she learned to play the piano and was often moved to tears listening to organ music. She sang in the Chi Omega sorority quartet in college, and in Presbyterian church choirs throughout her life. She loved being in nature and was a lifelong supporter of conservancy initiatives. She was also a whiz at word games and crossword puzzles and always had a murder mystery book open at her side.
In 2001, Susanne fought and won a battle with a rare but deadly type of cancer, overcoming long odds to make a full recovery. Her tenacity and grace throughout her illness and healing were inspirational to everyone around her.
Susanne was, above all, committed to her family, and was the driving force behind the family’s close bond. In 2006, Susanne and Ben moved to Virginia to be closer to their children. Charlottesville became the hub of the Williams family gatherings, with Susanne, ever gracious and kind, filling their home with warmth, laughter, and the smell of freshly baked pfeffernusse cookies.
Susanne was preceded in death by her parents, Vaughn and Rosina Cutler, brother Paul Cutler and his wife Norma, and their son, Rick. Susanne is survived by her husband, Floyd Bennett (Ben) Williams, their son Mark Bennett Williams and his wife Maria; son Brent Cutler Williams and his wife Dotty, their children Kara Grace Williams and Jackson Vaughn Williams; daughter Anne Shaeffer Williams and her husband Scott, and Anne’s children Riley Susanne Williams and Chloe Anne Koehler; along with Susanne’s nieces and nephews Becky, Julie, David, and Jim Cutler.
The family offers special thanks to the staff of Catered Living and Health Care at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, and the staff at T&L Companions for their care and loving support for Susanne.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 Rugby Road, Charlottesville VA 22903.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Susanne’s name to The Nature Conservancy, Donate Now to Protect Nature | The Nature Conservancy.
Condolences may be left for the family on the Tribute Wall.