Susan Marie Wulff, 1961-2019
Susie Wulff was a Kenwood girl, the granddaughter of retired U.S.N. Commander Smokey and Skip Martin, and Albert and Florence Wulff. Susie was born in the summer of 1961.
There were only a few vineyards in those days; the land was mostly taken with blackberries, prunes, walnuts, sheep, cattle and hay. One of those farmers was her Grandpa Al, sitting high on his John Deere, rolling with some squeaks, and with a relaxed lope like a heartbeat, as he went to get a disc for his next chore. Susie loved that tractor and she loved her grandfather.
Susie loved to go into Al’s big barn. It was right in back of that giant eucalyptus tree that stood at the corner of what is now Maple Avenue. Inside the barn was Al’s rock crusher, a gigantic but intricate machine that he must have built. Why? We never knew. There was an Indian rock structure near the barn that is now in someone’s back yard. Susie’s lifelong affinity for Native American culture began there.
Susie had some little friends, a goose and dogs to play with. Many sticky summer days were spent in the creek or at Paradise Pool.
As she grew, Susie played on the edge of Wulff’s field where her love for finding arrowheads began. In those days they were almost on the surface.
When Susie was three and four she was a quiet child. She was always creative and would entertain herself and never got into trouble. In the spring Susie would plant a little garden and marvel when the seeds began to sprout.
Susie loved to look at the pollywogs when the water ran clear in the deep street-side ditches. She loved the creek and the Indian Mounds that were still visible when she was little.
When Susie started at Kenwood School in 1966, her dog Wiley would walk the few blocks with her, and then he would go back at the proper time to fetch her.
When she was seven years old we had a life change and moved a few miles away to Glen Ellen, and Susie acquired two big sisters and two brothers, one a baby called Jon.
We came often to Kenwood to visit her grandparents and friends and we would always to go to the Fourth of July Picnic. Susie and her friend Shelley rode their ponies in the parade. She loved to pick blackberries.
When Susie was 14 she was visiting her Grandpa and Grandma Wulff. She was riding her bike to Morton’s or to Paradise Pool when a worker for a ranch turned into her at the Lawndale Bridge. She swerved and went over the edge. Susie fell 25 feet, striking her head on bedrock, cracking her skull and eye socket and breaking her thigh. She was in intensive care for three days and then she rallied and began to heal herself. Seemingly her head had healed and left her with, unbelievably, a super fast wit and a magnificent sense of humor.
When Susie’s older siblings had left the nest the family moved to Sonoma Mountain. Susie learned to live without water and electricity. Susie baked in a stovepipe oven, she learned to trim the wicks on the kerosene lamps, heat the dishwater on the wood stove and she could hook the TV to the car battery. She easily took to living close to the land.
As time went on, Susie went to high school, and had various jobs in Glen Ellen. Back in Kenwood, Susie took the county bus to work, as a teacher’s aide at the State Hospital. She loved her job, and her students loved her.
Susie retired from that position a few years ago and began as a caregiver for her Aunt Patti and Uncle John. She volunteered at the St. Leo’s Food Bank, and she worked at the Sonoma Moose Lodge the last three years. She was her brother Jon’s best pal, organizing and assisting him with his music and the Sonoma Open Mic Night.
To Susie her family was everything. And to her family, Susie was everything.
She passed away on March 16, 2019, a victim of cancer.
Sherry, Mitchell, Vivian, Jon, her friends, and her parents, Ron and Judy, could always count on Susie to happily and silently help with anything that was needed. There is no one to take her place.
On April 6, friends and family will gather at 1 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in Sonoma to remember her.