Suzanne Saussy Stewart, a lovely lady who was gentle and kind, died May 31, 2018, at Lambeth House. She was 91.
Ms. Stewart was born and raised in New Orleans, attended Sacred Heart Academy and was a graduate of Louise S. McGehee School, which honored her as Alumna of the Decade. She attended Radcliffe College where she met her first husband, Harvard student William Daniel Leader. She graduated from Newcomb College with a degree in chemistry and taught chemistry for four years at McGehee. After her three children were grown, she used the skills learned at her father’s company, Walker Saussy Advertising, to become public relations director at Touro Infirmary.
She was president of the Junior League of New Orleans and co-chairman of the first WYES-TV Bid-by-phone Auction. She was on the board of directors or board of governors of the United Way of Greater New Orleans, Kingsley House, Isadore Newman School, Louise S. McGehee School, Tulane Medical Center, Delachaise House, the Arts Council New Orleans, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Louisiana. She was on the advisory or steering comities of the League of Women Voters, Tulane Summer Lyric Theater, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Diamondhead, MS. She was a member of the Orleans Club and the Pass Christian Yacht Club.
Ms. Stewart was the essence of gentility. Few people know there are two types of asparagus forks—one for gardening, the other for dining—she did, and she used them both. She was proper, but not pearl-clutching prim. She was a gourmet cook who edited the Junior League of New Orleans cookbooks, an avid gardener with a special love for camellias, and an accomplished bridge player, a skill learned from her mother who once beat Charles Goren and Omar Sharif. She was especially devoted to her maternal grandmother, Cecile Airey Parker, wife of former governor John Milliken Parker, and lovingly called her “Mother Dear.” Her profile of “Mother Dear” is included in “First Ladies of Louisiana,” published by the Louisiana chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.
Her childhood summers were spent fishing off the pier in front of her family’s home in Pass Christian, MS, and sailing with her seven younger siblings in the Gulf of Mexico. She got her first sailboat, “The Vagabond,” at age 14. When her parents died, she became the matriarch of the family. “Aunt Sue has always been an inspiration to me for many reasons; for her successful marketing career, for always gathering our family together, and for never letting the adversity she faced in her life define the woman she was,” Virginia Saussy said when asked to describe her aunt.
Niece and namesake Suzanne Saussy Lentine viewed her Aunt Sue as “the original Suzanne Saussy.” It was their special bond. “Aunt Sue’s elegance was reflected in the way she set the dinner table,” she said. “Everything was impeccable: sterling silver water goblets and bread plates, place cards, crisp white linen tablecloth and napkins, and ancestral china, silver, and crystal,” she said. “It was so beautiful, you didn’t want to spoil it by eating.”
Ms. Stewart was energetic, active, and adventurous. In her early-80s, she took a long road trip with her sister Jon and brother-in-law Jimmy Boulet to Nova Scotia, stopping along the way to visit with family. Several years later, she traveled to Thailand and Hong Kong with Jon and beloved niece Ruthie Boulet, who kept her room at Lambeth House filled with irises freshly picked from the bayou.
She is survived by two sons, William Duncan Finley and Edward Davis Finley III; two grandsons, William Duncan Blake-Finley and Joshua Orjuela Finley; great granddaughter, Margot Louise Blake-Finley; three sisters, Jon Boulet, Carroll Saussy, and Airey Stroschine; and six stepchildren, Louise Stewart, Gordon Stewart, Amelie Lanaux, Parker Stewart, John Stewart IV, and Edwa Brennan. She was a grandmother to her 20 step-grandchildren, Sydney Stewart Barnes, Lindsey Stewart Barnes, Sarah Robertson, Margaret Stewart, Virginia Stewart, Elaine Bullock, Pierre Lanaux, Amelie Matthews, Behn Lanaux, David Brennan Jr., Paul Brennan, Parker Stewart Jr., Charles Stewart, Virginia Evans, Caroline Milling, John Stewart V, Scott Stewart, Adrian Maught, Pearce Austin, and Christine White Lynch, all of whom called her “Grandma Sue.” Patricia Land Stevens, a classmate of hers at McGehee, was a treasured friend throughout her life.
She is predeceased by her parents, Virginia Parker Saussy and Charles Walker Saussy; daughter, Elaine Finley White; husbands Edward Davis Finley Jr. and John Stewart III; sister, Elaine Saussy Stewart; and three brothers, John Parker Saussy, Stephen Duncan Saussy, and Gordon Anthony Saussy.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 A.M. June 7 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Diamondhead, MS., followed by interment in Live Oak Cemetery in Pass Christian, MS. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to charity. JACOB SCHOEN & SON in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be expressed at www.schoenfh.com