Thursday, February 26, 2009

HeroTown II
Secret Origin
Susan Peaks came into the world seventy years ago in a rural town outside of Toledo. The middle child of Fred and Mabel ,her hardworking parents ,who worked a small farm. Mabel ran the modest home cooking, cleaning, canning the food, making pickles, jams and other edibles that supported the five family members. Fred worked at The Standard Oil company in addition to working the farm and caring for the bees that yielded caramel colored jars of comb honey for family and for selling at a small roadside stand along the gravel driveway.

Like her parents Susan was an avid reader and excelled in her studies with a natural talent for math, physical sciences and history. Susan attended an all female college not far from home and in the process rediscovered a childhood fascination with astronomy. While in graduate school she met Vincent a young chemistry professor who matched her passion for learning and desire to raise a family. A year later they relocated to Grandview Ohio , a small city suburb of Columbus where Vince had secured a position as an editor of scientific journals while Susan managed the apartment until locating a house in a nearby suburb that was more than fit to settle into and start a family. Vince and Susan adopted a baby boy in 1966 and then a girl in 1968 followed by a two year old child through a Catholic Adoption Program for babies living in an orphanage in Pusan, Korea.

The three children thrived in the quiet suburb while Susan slowly found herself sliding into the role of "single parent" with Vince away on business , working long hours and eventually disconnecting from the rest of the family. After several years of a chaotic and stressful marriage Susan returned to graduate school to pursue a masters degree and a doctorate in Physics with a specialization in Astrophysics. Susan sought higher education and in addition she received an elevated sense of self and the personal power to have a full life that included children, grandchildren and distinguished career, teaching at a nearby University, running a prestigious lecture series as well as operating a small observatory and planetarium for students and community groups.

Super Powers
Susan has had a long career as an activist; donating her time and resources to the education of several young students in Central America, providing support for prospective scientists (particularly young women --when she graduated in the late seventies women made up less than ten percent of the academics with an advanced degree in physics.) Susan traveled the world doing research and she made sure that her three children had opportunities to visit other countries even traveling with her to the mountainous regions that are home to the worlds most powerful telescopes.
Now in her fourth career she plays a very active role in the lives of her grandchildren, continues to work as a part-time teacher and is a technical writer and consultant for a educational services company. She recently lost her husband Vincent to a rare blood cancer after three grueling years of providing for his needs and well-being. Susan's parents lived into their nineties so it is not surprising she can still out work many thirty year olds and continues to create a legacy of generosity, selflessness, a never ending curiosity of the young girl who gazed up to the night sky and became a "star doctor"as her seven year old grand-daughter says it. Susan is a hero to many students, friends and family that still looks up to the night sky in her backyard --providing others with a wondrous view of the heavenly bodies she has shared with so many --humble, compassionate and brave she continues to bring us back to earth, back home.

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