Suzanne Stuhaug



Suzanne “Sue” Stuhaug died Feb. 5, 2017, surrounded by her family and the expressions of love from her friends, after a long battle with a debilitating lung disease.

She was born in Alameda, California, in 1939 and came to Washington to attend Western Washington University. She graduated in 1962 with a degree in education and a strong foundation in marine biology. She married her husband, Dennis (better known as “Stu”), in 1963, and taught middle school until the birth of their son in 1967. The Stuhaugs purchased their cabin on the Key Peninsula in 1984 as a family retreat. As the century turned and family conditions changed, Longbranch became their full-time home.

Stuhaug explored the whitewater rivers of the Northwest while leading trips and teaching paddle sports. She soon became a professional instructor and was instrumental in developing the certification standards for others. She followed her heart to the wilderness and in the wake of early explorers down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean, and the Stikine and Dease rivers in British Columbia, among others. In her touring kayak, she paddled much of the shoreline of Puget Sound and the bays and channels of the Inland Passage, as well as the exposed western shore of Vancouver Island.

But bicycle was Stuhaug’s preferred mode of transportation for much of her life. She rode from border to border across the United States several times and pedaled extensively through the American West, as well as France and Italy. She supported her son, Erik, in his bike-racing career and became the de facto mom to housefuls of young racers.

Stuhaug was also a passionate tennis player and became a teaching pro as well as a competitor in tennis tourneys across the United States and Canada. Illnesses in her extended family led her to hang up her tennis racket to become a caregiver.

Music was a sanctuary where Stuhaug could restore herself, usually with early British composers such as William Byrd and John Dowland. Her instrument of choice was the recorder because she loved its voice and because it fit on her bicycle and in her kayak. She also became fascinated by stringed instruments and built her own double bass.

Stuhaug dabbled in art for some time but 20 years ago at an elder hostel class in Arizona, the world of watercolor opened to her and she dove into art with all the passion she had for her other activities. Every painting became an adventure and an exploration of vision and technique. She painted with two groups: one of friends from every corner of the United States and the other with the ArtphArts of the Key Peninsula. She exhibited her paintings in several one-woman shows, as well as group shows in and around the Key Peninsula.

Stuhaug served on the board of the Longbranch Improvement Club and continued her work with children and education as a board member and officer of the Two Waters Arts Alliance.

Stuhaug is survived by her husband, Dennis; son, Erik; grandson, Finn; and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Elise. She wished to have neither public services nor memorial and suggested for those who wish to make a donation to The Mustard Seed Project.