In Memory of Suzanne P. Smith, RN, EdD, FAAN

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.

photo of SS SK JB from SF smaller for blog

Suzanne Smith, Sandy Kasko, and Jenn Brogan, INANE 2011 in San Francisco

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.

39 thoughts on “In Memory of Suzanne P. Smith, RN, EdD, FAAN

  1. Thank you Leslie for this beautiful tribute to Suzanne. I can’t actually recall when I first met Suzanne … it feels like I have known her forever. We were fast friends, mostly connecting in our adventures around INANE .. the planning as well as being there. She had the most amazing wit. She was wise in so many matters. She always spoke the truth and expressed her frank opinion, but always an opinion informed by not only the facts of the matter, but her keen insight. She held an unshakable moral compass, and was dedicated to nursing and the development of nursing journal editors and authors. I cannot express in words the deep sadness I feel for her loss. I know over the days to come we will find many ways to pay tribute to her, and to recognize her many accomplishments and contributions. For now, since I cannot email her to say how sad I am (which I desperately want to do), I am posting this message and joining with all others to express my deep gratitude and love for Suzanne. Peggy

  2. She will be remembered as a tremendous asset to the community of nursing editors. Her way of being and her passion for ideas touched so many older and newer members of INANE.

  3. Yes, I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the untimely death of Suzanne. She was a long time friend and colleague. I was introduced to her by Ruth Alward so many years ago. Each and everytime we met, she would call me Nicky not Donna. I am not sure if she really did not know my first name or just loved using my last name. Suzanne had her own way of mentoring and supporting each of us in our way. She made us all feel so special. We have lost a good friend, a dedicated nurse, and a outstanding leader. As I leave Washington today after attending the NLN summit, I recall just over a year ago sitting in Union Station with Suzanne and Ruth for lunch.

    Thank you Leslie for creating this sacred space so we can acknowledge Suzanne’s life and express our gratitude for being her friend.

    Donna Nickitas

  4. Similar to Leslie, I saw the email’s subject line today and just knew the news would not be good.

    I came to my first INANE meeting in 1997, a bit awed by everyone and everything because I was a newsletter editor at that time rather than a journal editor. However, Suzanne welcomed me to Long Boat Key and continued to welcome me to INANE meetings as my literary fortunes improved. She was always gracious, with great humor and forthrightness. Her contributions to INANE have been inestimable, and she will most definitely be missed in Maine next year.

    God speed, Suzanne!
    Dottie Roberts

  5. I owe so much to Suzanne’s mentorship. I am devastated at the news of her sudden death. When I first became an editor I was as clueless as most new editors, and one day as I sat crying at my desk thinking about all the things I didn’t know, I looked at the attendees list from my first INANE meeting, and remembered Suzanne. I called her that day, and many, many times after that day, and she always gave me her time and wise advice. It’s inconceivable to me that I won’t see or talk to Suzanne again. Suzanne had so much more living to do, and I’m angry that she won’t get to do it. When I was very sick recently she would email me encouraging notes, telling me that she knew I probably couldn’t carry on a conversation, so she just wanted me to know that she was thinking of me. A great nurse, a great writer, a great editor, a great mentor, a great friend. That was Suzanne.

  6. I had so many great times with Suzanne. We worked hard but we had a ton of laughs….whether it was plying the casinos and restaurants of the Las Vegas strip during a conference, or figuring out what to do about an assistant Suzanne swore was trying to gaslight her by turning the toilet paper roll upside down each day. Nearly all of my memories of Suzanne make me smile; even when she called me in tears one time, I was so honored to be called upon not just as a business associate but as a friend.

    The last time I saw Suzanne, I had recently moved to Maine and we were still unpacking. She drove up to see me before heading to Ogunquit, one of her favorite places in the world. I had two young children and nothing in the refrigerator but a pack of hot dogs. Mumbling an apology, I served Suzanne a boiled hot dog on a plate for lunch. With her generous grin and twinkling eyes – what I will always remember about Suzanne – she assured me that the meal was perfect. In fact, it was just what she had wanted. I’ll never forget Suzanne.

  7. When I became editor of the Journal of Professional Nursing in 2002, Suzanne called me and introduced herself to me and gave me so much valuable advice. She was so warm and giving. I will always remember that. This is a great loss.

  8. When I first met Suzanne, I was a bit afraid of her. I first “met” her when she chaired a meeting and she was blunt and efficient and organized, a bit daunting. Later on, through INANE meetings, I saw Suzanne in a different light – funny, generous with her time and encouraging.

  9. Like many of you, Suzanne blessed me personally and professionally. She “adopted” me as a novice author and later as an editor. She was my mentor and much more. I felt a special bond with her in my goal to measure up to her standards and expertise. Suzanne was generous in her knowledge and I have spoken and written often about her beautiful and strategic transition of JONA to me. She is the role model for true selfless transition. I always told her she was still a teacher, just in independent studies to new authors and new editors. Suzanne was fun and truly a beautiful person. I often reflect on those few really great nurse mentors that shape your career and Suzanne is one of mine for many reasons beyond publishing.
    I always knew as a new editor, she would be there to guide and help me. I know once or twice when I really messed up, my follow up message was in ALL CAPS! That necessitated a phone call consultation to get on her good side again and redeem myself!
    I feel a great sense of personal loss. I tried to tell her at every opportunity how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. Now I need to go back and do that to a few others in honor of Suzanne.

    Karen Hill

  10. Suzanne was the most down-to-earth leader I think I’ve ever met. Though I was a reviewer for JONA for many years, we did not physically meet until a Sigma Theta Tau convention. You immediately felt like you’d known her for years. In some ways, in the age of email, we did. Her humor was rich and spontaneous but never mean. I chuckle when I think of one interchange where I was given a manuscript to review that was far from being ready for prime time. I asked her what I had done to piss her off. She laughed and explained that she wanted a reviewer to give feedback to preserve the hope of the author so that they didn’t think the manuscript was summarily returned from the editor without any further consideration.
    I cannot image nursing without this vibrant, fun, talented lady. My sympathies to her family who must feel the loss more deeply than we do.

  11. My heart is deeply saddened to hear of Suzanne’s death. I’ve been fortunate to have known and worked on and off with Suzanne for as long as I’ve been affiliated with INANE, so that’s about 1986. From my very first encounter with her straightforward, no nonsense, please-get-to-the-point-sometime-today style, underscored with meaty facts instead of misty emotions, yet sprinkled with a dry sense of humor sometimes slow to surface, Suzanne immediately struck me as familiar as family. Having been accused on a number of occasions of having a somewhat comparable communication style, I asked Suzanne how someone from Florida could sound and act so much like a New England Yankee, whereupon she revealed her Bay State roots and I confessed to my Connecticut home and upbringing. We were instant and enduring New England-loving colleagues since that day, though rarely saw each other except at INANE. My last good fortune working with Suzanne was when she volunteered me to help as a judge for the MCF award. Our deal was that I would serve as a judge if she and I got to catch up a bit at next year’s INANE in Maine, so she’ll need to be there in some way or form ’cause New Englanders don’t break their word ~ Grif

  12. As a new editor I was looking for information about INANE. Someone said “Call Suzanne.” Her cheery voice popped though the phone and she explained the ins and outs of INANE — so welcoming and enthusiastic. I met her in person at the 2002 San Diego meeting. For me, Suzanne and INANE will always be synonymous.

  13. Still hard to believe…Suzanne and I were fast friends from when we learned we were both in SW Florida ….and I think first met in the mountains of Colorado at an INANE meeting when Cheryl Smart was my publisher at Mosby and I was the editor of a journal then called Mosby’s Home Care Provider….many years ago….over the years I got to know her better when I was a new editor for Lippincott and Suzanne became my go-to expert…..but the best memories are the monthly shopping and luncheon days we did in the mall….and Talbots…one of her favs….Sadly….we emailed last week and she was planning to come to my new house in Venice in October….when I returned from some travel….

    Suzanne we love you and will miss you always….

    Tina Marrelli
    Editor, Home Healthcare Nurse

  14. Thank you, Leslie, for creating this space where we can share our grief and loss and think about how much we loved Suzanne as a mentor and friend. I was in the audience when Bev Malone told the NLN assembly of Suzanne’s unexpected death. Having just talked to her a few days before as she was planning to meet with the Nurse Educator editorial board at her Washington home, I couldn’t believe this sad news – and was hoping it was wrong – until I saw the tribute posted on the Nursing Center earlier today.

    I first met Suzanne in the early 1980’s – and have been one of the reviewers and on the editorial board of Nurse Educator since 1985. Always looking forward to our correspondence and exchange of ideas – usually on a monthly basis for all of these years. What an inspiration, role model, and friend for each of us and our profession. Yes, we loved you and will miss you so much,

    Kay Hodson Carlton, RN, EdD, FAAN

  15. Back in 1985 Suzanne signed me on to write a series of management articles for nurse executives. It was a big risk for her, not only because I wasn’t a nurse, but also because I was still pretty green as a consultant and writer. My first article came back in pieces, scotch-taped together and blood red with editorial comments. I was both crushed, and honored that she would bother. I mean, she was the Editor-in-Chief of JONA! Still, I loved and appreciated that she was so direct (i.e., brutally honest) and we plowed through many a conversation in record time only to linger on talking about our kids and everything else. As colleagues, and friends, we collaborated on many projects through the years, most significantly her enormous contribution to HonorNurses.Org.

    Suzanne, I’m grateful you were part of my life. I can’t imagine that there will be no more phone dates. I miss you already and will keep you in my heart as long as it beats.I know I am not alone in my grief and I hope the words that follow bring comfort to Suzanne’s family and many colleagues and friends.

    “As long as we can love each other and remember the feeling of love we had. We can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.”  — Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

  16. This is a beautiful tribute to Suzanne. I met Suzanne at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing in Indianapolis in 1997. I wanted to meet her and find out how to write for publication. I found her to be down to earth, humorous, direct and kind. I am fortunate that God allowed Suzanne to pass my way. She has been my mentor and friend since 1997. I will miss you, Suzanne. I will see you in Heaven some-day and we will pick up where we left off.

    Richard L. Pullen, Jr., EdD, MSN, RN, CMSRN

  17. Suzanne was always so optimistic and helpful in responding to her reviews of Carole Kenner and my Rx for Deans column in Nurse Educator. I loved working with her in developing ideas for new columns. She would tell me she had to go golfing and then would get back to me. I will miss her intelligence, humor, and insights very much. I am very sorry that she is gone!

  18. I am sorry to learn of Suzanne’s passing. As a prospective author, she was enthusiastic in her replies tor and excited to share news of an accepted manuscript. Her emails would include pleasantries about the weather, holidays or current events. Though I did not know her personally, I could tell she would be great fun to know ! Her professional presence will surely be missed in her field. I extend my sympathy to friends and family who loved her

  19. I am incredibly saddened to learn of Dr. Smith’s death. I have published several articles in Nurse Educator and Dr. Smith was such a wonderful mentor. She was so excited about new ideas and had an amazing gift for encouraging nurse educators like myself. Dr. Smith was open to unconventional ideas and truly thrilled to provide a forum for their dissemination. She will be missed.

  20. So many of us received gifts from Suzanne during our professional lives — what a tribute to her boundless love and energy! From 1985-87, Suzanne had the vision to include research editorials in JONA, and I was the lucky person chosen to write them. She had a warm way of giving feedback that made you strive to do your best for her — and her readers. She was always someone you felt blessed to run into at a conference, because of her intellect, her warmth, and her kind nature. My condolences to her family and her many INANE friends.

  21. It seems like I knew Suzanne, but actually never met her in person. She was such a great mentor to me when I first began publishing in Nurse Educator. Our emails would contain weather reports from Florida and Connecticut…I have 20 inches of snow…It’s 80 degrees in Florida 🙂 We “talked” about our children and grandchildren. She asked me to be a reviewer for Nurse Educator…I was both thrilled and honored. I cannot tell you how my heart sank when I read the email. I have lost a “forever email friend”…my one regret is that I never had the chance to meet Suzanne in person.
    God speed…

  22. As an editor myself, I have worked with Suzanne for many years, contributing copy for a column to JONA. I enjoyed working with her and admired her professionalism and dedication to the field of nursing. When we talked I enjoyed our conversations and always came away enlightened when she shared her insight about the issues facing nurses and nurse leaders today. She was smart, talented and very savvy.

    I also enjoyed meeting up with her at AONE annual meetings and having the opportunity to chat in person. She was always kind, gracious and funny. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of her passing. She was an inspiration and mentor to many, myself included. Through her work and the people she inspired, her legacy will live on. She will be missed.

  23. I was stunned to learn of Suzanne’s death this morning and join everyone else in their praise of her many accomplishments and sorrow at our loss of a great leader in nursing journalism. I first met her at the INANE meeting in Long Boat Key after I had been appointed to an editor’s position at Saunders. I remember wondering how Suzanne had the energy to play golf after organizing and running that meeting! What I remember most about her was her brief but kind email messages of support or congratulations whenever she heard or read about something of significance that occurred in my life. She has left a great legacy.

  24. I am shocked by this news of Suzanne’s passing. 13 years ago Suzanne offered me the chance to write a series of reviews on authoring tools for web-based courses. It was my first opportunity to be published, and gave me the confidence for a lot of other writing I did in my career since then. Thank you, Suzanne, for your tremendous encouragement to many generations of budding nursing writers.

  25. I too am stunned and saddened. I worked with Suzanne as both an author and reviewer for JONA. She was an incredible human being. My outstanding memory of her is not a specific statement she made or wrote but how she expressed her thoughts, opinions and suggestions. She was a GREAT COMMUNICATOR. We need more like her.

  26. Suzanne wasn’t my editor, she wasn’t my mentor–Suz was just my friend. Golf brought us together in the beginning, my being an RN gave us common ground. We played together, we lunched together, we showed off pictures and bragged about kids and grand kids together, we aged together lamenting briefly our inability to slow it down. We thought we’d have lots more times together. I will miss my friend.

  27. I first met Suzanne when we were both presenting at the ANA Nursing Education Conference in San Francisco in 1990. I had just relocated from Penn State University to Tampa General Hospital (TGH) in Tampa, Florida while Suzanne had assumed the editorship of JONA and Nurse Educator and moved to Bradenton, Florida. Suzanne invited me for dinner and I gave her my manuscript, “Why Do Faculty Get Tenure: Dean’s Perspective”. However when she returned the paper, there were so many edits that I was devastated but realized she was very knowledgeable about Academic Tenure. I worked on the paper and she published it in Nurse Educator. Suzanne came to TGH and helped my educators to publish in JONA. I had the pleasure of serving with Suzanne on the Florida Nurses Foundation (FNF) and as President of FNF, Suzanne was instrumental in establishing a financial structure to FNF. Suzanne received a FNF nursing research grant on “Plagiarism in Publishing” since she was passionate of making sure all authors were ethical and did not publish the same material in different nursing journals. I will miss seeing her at STTI at the VHF dinner.

  28. Tim Porter-O’Grady

    It is so wonderful how many of us have fond memories of Suzanne and how she touched each of us in her unique way. After having written a number of articles for JONA over the years we became quite conversant and I grew in my appreciation and regard for her. Like everyone who knew her, I feel her loss deeply. I honor her contribution to our profession and the role she played in many of our careers and contributions to nursing and health care. I know she had an impact far beyond her own understanding. I will miss her and will always recall fondly her role in my own career and life..

  29. Whatever Suzanne said “yes” to, she was committed. I admired her humor, integrity, warmth and broad range of knowledge. She assisted many nurses into the publishing world by encouragement and mentoring. I met her through STTI and later at other national conferences (Academy, ANA, etc.). She was a great speaker and I heard her at several STTI chapter meetings. Once she met you and you clicked with her, your were friends and she always treated me as one. I am saddened at losing this dedicated, bright nurse. Hats off to her for being a nurse leader and wonderful human being. I miss her.

  30. I first met Suzanne while at an AONE Conference. I was sitting in the conference, and she sat down next to me and humbly introduced herself as the Editor of JONA. Our conversation began a long relationship first serving as an author then on the Editorial Board for over a decade. JONA was always about the issues and the readers, and Suzanne never used it as her platform. She was a frank and selfless mentor to many and will be dearly missed personally and professionally. She was one of Nursing’s great leaders by leading through others.

  31. I am so sad and tears are streaming as I write this. Thank you Leslie for this means of continuing a beautiful tribute. I met Suzanne by phone when I cheekily called her in 1983 or so as a young staff development educator role in a large inner city hospital in DC to complain about her editorial decision to no longer include in-service education or staff development articles in Nurse Educator. She answered the phone! It seemed we talked forever about knowledge acquisition and development in nursing and various nursing roles, and what was a specialty practice anyway. It was likely about a 20 minute conversation. We met shortly after at a conference and found many common interests in nursing, writing, and family. We attended her wedding in Nashua, NH and our paths crossed often and then less often in subsequent years. But oh, her vivid smile, wicked wit, and keen intellect pop right back as I recall those precious moments. Condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

  32. Suzanne was an amazing mentor to me (and who knows how many authors and nurse leaders out there?) I first met her at an AONE Commission on Education meeting and was astounded to meet someone so open, honest, forthright. And FUN! I respected her opinion so much that it was certainly a hard smack in the head when I would receive mostly red lined manuscripts returned with queries about “what are you trying to say here?!” but I learned so much from her about how to write a tight, clear article. Suzanne would be willing to talk over ideas passionately. Never did I have to wonder if she cared, or agreed, or respected my frame of reference. She was truly an authentic leader, and still dear to those of us tangential to her current life.
    I felt compelled to write this because I hope Suzanne’s family reads about what a positive force she was in this world, and will continue to be, with her influence on healthcare excellence.

  33. I am still so so sad about losing Suzanne. She was a great friend and mentor to me. She helped so much with my professional writing and I have served on the JONA Editorial Advisory Board since 1995. We had many email conversations about our families and our arthritis and yes, truth be told, about cosmetic surgery. Her wry sense of humor, her friendship, and her brilliance as a human being will be missed by me and our profession.


  34. Suzanne was a woman who touched many through her knowledge, support and positive outlook on life. She loved having a place in DC and Florida and relished being in two different worlds; one exciting and the other relaxing. People with her smile and good nature should surely live longer. We were blessed to have had her in our field for the time she gave to us.

  35. I had the opportunity to serve with Suzanne on the Board of Directors of Sigma Theta Tau International. Her personal qualities and style of leadership were an inspiration to me and my nursing career. I remember enjoying working with her when we met in Indianapolis four times a year for Board meetings. But I also remember fondly the visits we had while on walks in the early mornings or over evening dinners. The nursing profession is better because of her contributions. Blessed be her memory!

    Joanne Olson
    University of Alberta
    Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA

  36. Like everyone involved in INANE and those who knew Suzanne through other professional affiliations, I feel a deep loss. The editorial world and INANE will not be the same without her. I met Suzanne at my first INANE meeting in 1997 at the conference in Long Boat Key. I was in awe of her through my work with her in publishing several articles. She immediately put me at ease, and was welcoming and gracious. That helped me feel apart of INANE from my very first day. She always knew me at every meeting I attended.

    Just last month, my Yahoo account was closed by Yahoo so I had to create another and go through the process of getting rejoined to the INANE listserve. There were some roadblocks so Suzanne took over and got me up and running again. That’s just the type of person she was…helpful and attentive.

    I will miss her sound advice, historical perspective of the publishing world and INANE, and her honesty and humor. Jane

    Jane Hokanson Hawks, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN
    Editor, Urologic Nursing
    Professor, Nebraska Methodist College

  37. Years ago, not two days after I submitted my first article to Nurse Educator, I received a telephone call from Suzanne Smith – the Editor of the journal!!! Within moments, even though we had never met, I felt as if I were speaking to a friend! You see, Suzanne called to ask why my professional name was Barbara yet I identified myself as Bonnie. I told her how my parents were taken with the young girl Bonnie in Gone with the Wind – yet also wanted to honor my mother’s maiden name of Barber. Hence they named me Barbara but called me Bonnie! Suzanne listened intently to my long-winded story and concluded – “That is really interesting!” Now when I read the comments above I see my instincts were right on – that indeed I was talking to a friend and as well as a professional. What a privilege that conversation was – I knew it then and know it even more so now.
    Suzanne’s passing is a very sad day for all of us, yet she leaves us with a happy legacy that we are indebted to carry on in her memory.

  38. Pingback: Remembering Suzanne P. Smith, EdD, RN, FAAN | INANE – International Academy of Nursing Editors

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