It was a shock this morning to open my email and learn of the death of my good friend and colleague, Suzanne P. Smith. The message header just said “Suzanne” and I had a sinking feeling as I clicked on it. My worst fears were confirmed when I read she died unexpectedly at her home in Florida yesterday. Details at the moment are scarce but I am feeling a great need to create a place where all of us can come together to share our memories, thoughts, condolences, and prayers.
I first met Suzanne back in the 1980s, through committee work for Sigma Theta Tau. I remember being a little nervous about approaching her the first time to introduce myself–she was the Editor-in-Chief of JONA after all! But she was warm, gracious, and welcoming, which are probably three of the best words to describe her. We connected and I continued to turn to her for support and guidance. My editorship with CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing traces back to Suzanne and a column I was writing for JONA on technology. She was a good pal at my first INANE conference (London, 1995), introducing me to others and making me feel at home.
I was with Suzanne (and other members of my Lippincott “family”) on September 11, 2001. I remember crying with her as we watched in shock when the second tower collapsed on television.
When I volunteered Portland, Maine for INANE in 2014 (at the INANE conference in San Francisco in 2011), Suzanne was one of the first people I asked to be on the planning committee. She loved New England (she was originally from Worcester, Massachusetts) and was excited to welcome INANE to her home region. She was full of ideas for the conference and hardly a day would go by where I didn’t see her name in my email box. She was so sad to miss the conference in Ireland this year which made her doubly excited about next summer’s meeting. I can’t quite imagine what it will be like without her presence.
I know that Suzanne has touched many lives and shaped many careers, from students, to editors, to educators, to administrators. Her death is our loss and will be felt keenly for years to come. Just this morning I was talking with a potential author who wants to submit a manuscript to Nurse Educator. “Let me tell you what Dr. Smith likes,” I said. “She wants useful information that educators can put into practice. She wants articles that are full of new and interesting information. She doesn’t want the same-old same-old and will let you know quickly with a very fast (but polite) rejection. But if she likes your manuscript, her acceptance can be equally fast.”
Please use this forum as a place to share your thoughts, memories, and condolences. As more information is received in the coming days, I will keep everyone updated but in the immediate moment, here’s a place to share our collective grief.