Thursday, July 10, 2008

RIP Harvey Susser

I was very upset on Sunday when Helana called to tell me that Harvey had passed away. I knew he had been ill for some time with a brain tumor but I corresponded with him through his wife, who was kind enough to pass along my messages. Harvey is one of the few teachers I ever had from whom I actually learned anything. I still remember walking into my 8th grade literature class on the first day of school - Mr. Susser had written a quote from Alexander Pope on the board that stays with me to this day:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.

Over the years, our paths crossed many times via mutual friends and the College of Marin drama department. I remember taking a film class there in the mid 1970s and Harvey was the instructor. He saw my name on the roster and said, "Michelle Basil! You were in my 8th grade class!" (meaning I was in the 8th grade literature class he taught - I think we were his very first class). Lucy Witkin called out from the theatre balcony, "I went to high school with her!" How funny what you remember.

I pirated this from the Marin Independent Journal website:

Susser, Harvey J.

Harvey J. Susser Husband and father, theatre and film teacher, photographer, stage director, lover of words and of music, gardener, passed away gently on July 4th, 2008 at his home in Kelowna, B.C. following a year-long struggle with cancer. He joins his parents, Sylvia and David Susser and his nephew, London Susser of Los Angeles, California, who predeceased him. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Coralie Paris Susser, by his sons Leland Susser of Los Angeles, Joshua and Benjamin Susser of Vancouver, B.C. and his daughter, Jennifer Susser, of Kelowna, by his brother and sister-in-law Richard and Marcia Susser of Los Angeles, his nephews Morgan and Spencer Susser and Gabriel Susser of Los Angeles, by his myriad of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nephews and nieces from the Paris family of Vancouver, Victoria, and Gibsons, B.C. He is also survived by the hundreds of students and colleagues whose lives he touched as artist, director and teacher during his 30 years teaching English, Drama and Film History at Adeline Kent Middle School, Novato High School and the College of Marin in Marin County, California. Cremation services will be private. Friends and family are invited to join the Susser family at their home, at 2435 Fairhall Road, Kelowna on Tuesday evening, July 8th from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Friends, colleagues and students in California will be invited to join the Susser family for a 'final' Susser cast party sometime in late summer in Marin or Sonoma County. Details will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Holding Hands for Hospice to support the new Hospice facility or to the Cancer Centre for the Southern Interior, both in Kelowna, B.C. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.springfield, 250-860-7077.
Published in the Marin Independent Journal from 7/8/2008 - 7/9/2008.


Margo (Margy) Tuck said...

Michelle, What school was it where Mr. Susser was your 8th grade teacher? He was my 8th grade teacher at Kent Jr. High. I think it was 1965. My name is Margy Tuck and I was in his theater production of 12th Night.
Mr. Susser was the greatest teacher I had in my life time and I'm so sad to hear he passed away. I have so many happy memories of him!

Mizshely said...

Hi Margy,

Harvey was my 8th grade literature teacher at Kent as well, 1963-1964. We were his first class!

Anonymous said...

Harvey Susser spoke from his heart. He was funny. He loved people. He was one of those people that made living in Marin County a rich, unique experience. I was a photography friend of his. We communicated about his interest in photography. I was also a drama student for a summer session in one of his plays. He cast me as a....photographer!