Susan Mary Gillett Givens, 72, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, on June 3, 2015. She was born on May 13, 1943 in Racine, WI, to Mary and Lyman Gillett, the oldest of three daughters. She graduated from Washington Park High School in 1961, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965. While in Madison, Sue met her soulmate, Richard Spencer Givens, and they married on June 25, 1966. Sue and Rich moved to Ames, IA where their first daughter, Barbara was born. In 1967, Rich accepted a faculty position in the Chemistry Department at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS and there they established their roots, welcoming three more daughters. Sue was employed by Lawrence Memorial Hospital as a Registered Nurse in the Obstetrics/Gynecology unit from 1970 until her retirement in 2005.
During her nursing career, Sue served on numerous committees at LMH and the Kansas State Nurses Association, working to address healthcare needs that she and others had identified, including the founding of the Infant-Loss Support Group at LMH. She was very active in the First Presbyterian Church, serving as an Elder, a Deacon and a Parish Nurse. Sue was also a regular volunteer at FPC, as well as at Ten Thousand Villages, Just Food and Health Care Access, and other community organizations. She was a tireless advocate for those in need, working with others to lessen the world’s injustices.
Sue was a devoted wife, mother and friend, serving others in quiet, unassuming ways. She is remembered for her welcoming home, wonderful family meals, an encouraging note attached to a jar of her Jayhawk Jam, care packages containing “treasures” from the Church rummage sale, or a celebratory candle on your supper plate for a job well done. She cherished her opportunities to develop new and lasting friendships with women in the University Women’s Club, Eve Circle, the Jabberwalkers, her sewing group and book clubs. Sue especially loved holidays, every celebration rich with tradition that her family will continue in her honor. University students, staff, and faculty in the Chemistry Department at KU were always made welcome guests to the Givens’ home on holidays and for other celebrations. Sue loved to travel and accompanied Rich on many adventures around the world in addition to her frequent visits to children and grandchildren in other states.
Sue was the beloved wife of Richard, married 49 years, a loving mother of 4 daughters: Barbara J. Heeb (Jon), Elizabeth I. Porter (Jack), Madison, WI, Marjory L. Givens (Trey Sato), Madison WI and Mary E. Givens, Lawrence KS. She was also a proud grandmother of six grandchildren: Rachel and Harrison Heeb, Cameron and Clare Porter, and Jane and Jeffrey Sato Givens. Sue is survived by her sisters, Martha Spacek, Topeka, KS and Nancy Reeser (Dennis), Racine, WI, and by many nieces and nephews.
Sue’s ashes will be laid to rest at Pioneer Cemetery and along the lakeshore of their Sunset View cabin in the North woods of Wisconsin, her favorite place on earth. A Memorial Celebration of Sue’s life is planned for Saturday, June 20th at 3pm at the First Presbyterian Church.
The family would like to thank Dr. Stein and his staff at LMH Oncology and Andy Lewis and staff at VNA hospice for their exceptional care of Sue.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Sue’s name to First Presbyterian Church funds designated for the Parish Nurses, the Presbyterian Women, the Eco Team or to Health Care Access, Just Food or to a charity of your choice. And please enjoy a scoop of Iwig’s ice cream in her honor.