God needs to make room for one more violin in her orchestra – Sue’s on her way up, with “violin” on her license plate.
After beating breast cancer, Sue Northup, 72, couldn’t fend off brain cancer, and died in Helena on Monday, Aug. 27. She passed after completing the “trip of a lifetime,” an anniversary tour of Scandinavia – home of her Danielson ancestors – in celebration of Sue and Brent’s 50 years together.
Sue’s passions included teaching violin, playing violin, tending her garden, knitting, cooking and yoga. She was a devoted mother, a loving partner and a selfless friend. Her violin students were part of the family, walking in without knocking and doing homework in the kitchen while awaiting their turn. Long after they left, she’d sit in her favorite blue wingback chair typing personal lesson notes – “work on your bow hand; beautiful job on Bach” – that were emailed to every student, every week.
Sue loved her daughter and husband with all her heart. She was a humble servant who quietly donated countless hours to her church, St. Paul’s Methodist. Hers was usually the first hand in the air when volunteers were needed to cook or clean or just help out. A large flock of grateful friends and students came to say thank you and goodbye at St. Pete’s in recent weeks. We thank you all for your presence, your cards, your drawings, your food, your flowers – and your concerts which included violins, voices, cellos, guitars and an accordion!
Sue loved her students and friends deeply. Know that.
Sue Jean Danielson was born on March 16, 1946, in Bremerton, Washington, the daughter of Rowena and John Danielson. She was raised in Mt. Vernon, Washington and graduated from Whitman College where she met Brent Northup on a blind dinner date that Brent hoped “wouldn’t get complicated.” It got complicated.
Brent and Sue were married in Sue’s family living room in Mt. Vernon, Washington, on Dec. 28, 1967, during Christmas vacation of their senior year in college. Sue and Brent welcomed Katherine into their family in June 1987. Sue’s love for her daughter Kat, who was born on our 19th anniversary, was deep and pure. If Kat was joyful, Mom was joyful. No mom loved a daughter more.
“God has called one of his angels home,” said Kat.
Sue is survived by her husband Brent and daughter Katherine; sister Sally Mank and her husband Andy; sister-in-law Wendy Barone, and her husband Gino Barone; and her special cousin Jan Eyestone and her husband Bill; as well as many other cousins and her special friend, Beth.
When Whitman asked her to reflect on the 50 years since college, Sue boiled her wisdom down to two phrases that pretty well captured her life: “Never not knitting” and “Only kindness matters.”
Two services will be held to celebrate Sue’s wonderful and generous life. A musical tribute to Sue will be held at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m., including voices, violins, accordions. The finale will be an unrehearsed chorus of violins playing “Amazing Grace” and “Going Home (Largo)” (from Dvorak’s New World Symphony). Anyone with a violin is invited to bring their strings and join in the chorus. Sheet music is available in advance from Beth Mazanec, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Quaker tribute to Sue will be held at Touchmark, with a chance for friends to offer words about their memories of Sue amidst a silent worship service in honor of her life. The Quaker service, a silent hour with time for sharing memories of Sue, will be held at Touchmark on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that friends consider donating to a fund dedicated to supporting young musicians as they discover the double-stops of Mozart or the fanciful melodies of fiddle tunes. Donations to the Sue Northup Memorial Fund, called “Sue’s Young Musicians,” can be made at any First Interstate Bank. This non-profit in Sue’s memory will offer support for lessons or instruments in hope kids will learn to love music as much as Sue did.
Let’s let Sue take us home. Sue reflected on her journey after the discovery of the metastatic brain cancer this spring. It’s not filled with fear, but with gratitude, her life signature.
“Gratitude. Deep, deep gratitude,” Sue wrote. “And with that gratitude comes empowering change. I’m ready to tell the world. I’m ready to stop hiding; I’m ready to claim my place in this universe. This health scare is a spiritual journey of mega proportions. How is it that total strangers came together to help in a deeply loving and compassionate way? How is it that my husband and daughter and sister stepped forward to give me just the support I needed? How is it that my friends at church, in my violin studio, in my neighborhood heard my story with deep compassion and joy for my well-being? I am loved and valued beyond measure. And, finally, I know it.” END
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