- About Us
- Products and Services
Suzanne (Frey) YoderMarch 31, 1942 ~ December 5, 2017 (age 75)
Rita Suzanne Frey Yoder of Black Mountain, age 75, ended her time with us on Monday, December 5, 2017 after a courageous and graceful confrontation with cancer. She was born March 31, 1942 in Pettisville, Ohio, the daughter of the late Ernest and Mabel Frey.
She earned degrees from Wittenberg University and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. She lived and worked five years in Africa (the Congo, Gabon, Burundi/Rwanda) and seven in France. After retirement she volunteered regularly and enthusiastically in state and national parks as well as in France and Colombia. In every situation she created inviting and comfortable home spaces whatever the conditions.
Suzanne was an artist, homemaker, creator of original greeting cards, teacher, cultivator of blueberries, flower arranger, librarian, weaver, student of the Enneagram, pianist and drummer. She offered a variety of workshops— in the enneagram, weaving, journaling, celebration creation, tapestry and trauma healing.
Throughout her life she had many interests, especially in psychology and religion, the process of forgiveness, family dynamics, wildlife, human and animal behavior, conflict resolution, caring for the earth, peace and justice issues, in cultural differences and in learning how to walk humbly with God. She made voluminous notes and collected quotes and pictures relating to each of these areas. If she had chosen animal totems, they would have been the leopard for its elusiveness and observational skills and/or the sentinel topi standing alert on a hillock in the Serengeti, eyes open for predators. And though she savored life, she envisioned her death as liberation, evoking the image of a heron rising from murky waters. Always a seeker, she found deep meaning and encouragement for life’s journey by worshipping in many different religious settings, most recently with the Disciples of Christ in Black Mountain and the Circle of Mercy in Asheville.
Among the last words that Suz spoke was the phrase “crossing the border.”
We don’t know exactly what she was thinking, but she crossed many borders throughout her life. Border crossing meant adventure, learning about a new culture, speaking a different language, trying new foods, struggling to adapt, accepting different ways of doing things, understanding more about herself through new experiences, and then jotting down notes and collecting pictures to organize her reflections into an album. She has dozens of albums chock full of quotes, lists, ideas, poems, and pictures.
She always recognized that boundaries are important for psychological health. They help us know who we are. With an artist’s eye, what interested her were rivers, doors, windows, and fences. Rivers to separate but also to encourage forward movement. Doors to facilitate communication and escape. Windows to allow the Enneagram #5 in her to observe without being seen. Fences to mark and preserve identities.
But borders and doors for Suzanne were never designed for keeping others out. People from all walks of life came through the doors of her heart and home. Guests often remarked upon the serenity of her home and openness of her welcome.
Over the years she reflected frequently about crossing the final border, preparing a fat notebook with articles about death and dying, about living a life with purpose, about appropriate obituaries and celebrations of a person’s journey on this earth. She often said that perhaps the best way to move from this life to the next is simply to walk off alone into a blizzard as a traditional Eskimo woman might have done, but she also recognized that a ceremony would allow friends and family to come together for celebration.
She has always known that crossing the last border provides the opportunity for finally understanding the great mysteries of life. She believed that our attempts to define God are all very limiting and often erroneous, but that God is love and will welcome us with open arms as we cross the final border whatever the nature of our passport.
Suzanne composed the following words on Friday, 25 October, 1996 while she and Lauren were working in Burundi, accepting that there in the civil conflict they faced some risk of death:
“What would I like people to be able to say of me?
‘Her hospitality was gracious and warm. The neat little house, garden, along with paths in the woods provided rest and beauty. She delighted in affirming her guests’ interests with books, pictures, articles. She was creative with tasty French, African and Caribbean meals.
She regularly offered workshops in journal writing on spiritual and emotional subjects. She sent little notes of love and messages of encouragement in hand-made personal cards, always decorated by hand.
Although she loved her own home best, she would sacrifice a year now and then to serve in other places.
She was most comfortable with a scarf around her head and in hiking boots, but would dress up on occasion’”
Suzanne is survived by her husband Lauren Yoder of Black Mountain, her son Reinald Yoder (spouse Christine) of Decatur, Georgia, and daughter Jocelyn Weddington (spouse Benn) of Mooresville, North Carolina. Her grandchildren are Samantha, Caleb, Aaron and Abby. She has two great-granddaughters: Raegan and Makaela. Her three sisters are Glenda Mast (spouse Leon) of Springfield, Ohio, Marilyn Kay (spouse David) of Urbana, Illinois, and Linda Shank (spouse Richard) of Charlottesville, Virginia.
The family is being served by Penland Family Funeral Home in Swannanoa, and a celebration of Suzanne’s life will be held at 2:30 Saturday, December 9 at the First Christian Church of Black Mountain. Those who are able to join the family are encouraged to wear color, and perhaps a scarf and a hat.
Memorials may be sent either to 1) the Mennonite Central Committee of Akron, Pennsylvania, the agency with which the Yoders volunteered when teaching in the Congo and doing relief, development and peace-building work in Burundi and Rwanda.
or 2) the Keever Solace Center in Asheville, North Carolina where Suzanne (et nous aussi) received such comforting, professional care.