Susan Morrison Mayer '50, P'75
Alumna, Trustee Emerita, Legend
Susan Morrison Mayer of Newbury, N.H., an alumna of the Class of 1950, a trustee emerita and a beloved friend of the college, died on April 16, 2012 at the age of 81.
Susan graduated from Wellesley (Mass.) High School in 1948 and went on to attend Colby Junior College, earning an associate of arts degree in 1950 and a bachelor's degree in education at Tufts University in 1953. In 1987, she married Gerald Mortimer Mayer Jr., a dear friend she had known since she was a teenager.
She joined the Colby-Sawyer Board of Trustees in 1981, serving until 1990, and again from 1997 to 2006. Over her many years on the board, Susan served on the Academic Affairs (including as chair) and the Ad Hoc Library/Learning Center Building Steering Committees, as well as on the Development, Board Organization, Buildings and Campus Planning, Enrollment Management, Executive, and Student Development Committees. Susan's involvement also included service on the board's Task Force on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and as Northern New England regional chair of The Campaign for Colby-Sawyer. She was also active on behalf of the Class of 1950, volunteering as a class agent, as co-chair of her 30th, 40th, 45th and 50th class reunions and as a member and president of the Alumni Association board.
In addition to Susan's countless hours of devoted service, Colby-Sawyer College also benefited from her and her husband's generous philanthropy. The couple established two endowments at the college, the George A. Giles Presidential Initiatives Fund in 2000 and The Gerald and Susan Mayer Faculty and Staff Development Fund in 1992. Named in honor of Susan's grandfather, the Giles Fund supports the college president's highest priorities. The Mayer Fund enables faculty and staff to pursue their professional interests and deepen their level of expertise through conferences, sabbatical research, advanced course work and travel. Susan and Gerry were also involved in, and financially supported, the college's effort to return the Colbytown Lodge (now Lethbridge Lodge) to campus for students' social and recreational use.
In honor of their service and extraordinary philanthropy, Susan and Gerry Mayer were named as members of Colby-Sawyer's Legends Society, the highest recognition level for college benefactors. For her service to her class and the college, Susan was presented the Alumni Service Award in 1990. She and Gerry, who also served as a trustee, were celebrated at Commencement in 1995 with the college's highest award, the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal for Distinguished Service. Susan Mayer was one of Colby-Sawyer's greatest friends, leaders and supporters, according to President Tom Galligan. Susan believed in our mission ever since she was a student here. She and Gerry understood the importance of supporting the work of our outstanding faculty and staff and they made that one of their philanthropic priorities. On a personal level, Susan was intelligent, honest, humorous and a pleasure to be around. All of us at Colby-Sawyer mourn her passing and thank our lucky stars we had the chance to know her and work with her.
Former Chair of the Board of Trustees Anne Winton Black '73, '75, first met Susan Mayer when she was a young alumna. They shared a love of Colby Junior College and Colby-Sawyer College, and as Black took on volunteer positions and advanced to the Board of Trustees, Susan became a special mentor and role model. I saw in her the epitome of a Colby-Sawyer graduate: a person of integrity, with good humor, devotion to her college, boundless generosity and endless curiosity, Black says. Sue never took herself seriously, but took very seriously her service to Colby-Sawyer College, its faculty, staff and students. With her marriage to Gerry, she found a perfect partner, for their outlook on life was so similar. They embraced fully their ability to leave behind something better for their care. Gerry died in 2006 of complications from cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Black believes Susan Mayer's legacy will continue to exude a powerful presence at the college, especially for those fortunate to have known her as a friend. I will always remember Sue for her tender heart, her boundless energy, and the care with which she attended to all the people and places which were meaningful to her, Black says. I will treasure the time we spent together and the lessons she subtly taught me about how to make an impact and why there is so much joy in giving of yourself for the benefit of others. Sue Mayer did both with enthusiasm and devotion.
Susan's daughter Robin graduated from Colby-Sawyer in 1975, followed by Robin's daughter, Katelin McNutt, who graduated in 2010. Susan is survived by her and Gerry's eight children and their many grandchildren.
-Kimberly Swick Slover