Remembering VPR's Susan Keese, Who Brought Heart To Every Story

Mar 9, 2015

VPR’s Southern Vermont correspondent Susan Keese passed away on Saturday following a brief illness. She was 67.

Susan’s life in Newfane revolved around her family: her husband Bud, her two children Christopher and Annie, and her three grandchildren. 

Susan’s stories also said something about her. She dedicated herself to bringing us the voices of people whose lives were changed by the events and issues she covered. 

When Tropical Storm Irene hit, Susan lost power and Internet service, but she didn’t miss a beat, filing a steady stream of stories about the people affected. She continued to tell the stories of those struggling to recover long after the storm. 

She was happiest reporting from the field and carried a sleeping bag in her car in case she was ever stranded covering a story.

When Tropical Storm Irene hit, Susan lost power and Internet service, but she didn't miss a beat, filing a steady stream of stories about the people affected.

Susan came from a print journalism background.

She wrote about life and nature in the column "No Stone Unturned," which ran in the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. She also produced pieces for periodicals, including Vermont Life and the Boston Globe Magazine.

She came to VPR in 2002 and over the years produced award-winning stories that ranged from her interview with the pie-eating champion at the Deerfield Valley Farmers Day Fair to her coverage of a fatal Lake George ferry accident in 2005.

No one worked harder to get it right: to do justice to an issue when nuance was important and show sensitivity to an individual whose story she was telling.

Most recently, Susan reported extensively on the Vermont Yankee shutdown, including its effect on workers there.

No one worked harder to get it right: to do justice to an issue when nuance was important and show sensitivity to an individual whose story she was telling.

She loved using sound to transport us, whether to the Gilfeather Turnip Festival in Wardsboro or the Estey Organ Museum in Brattleboro.

Susan’s personality and warmth were on display in her coverage of the arts, as in a piece about a puppet show featuring a puppet couple who, Susan told us, lived in a place that looked a lot like Vermont.

“There's a mud season scene, and a love scene that features a bit of puppet nudity and an undergarment dangling from an apple tree,” Susan reported, adding, “who could object to a couple of puppets falling in love?”

Susan was a great fan of her co-workers; always generous with praise and congratulations. She also helped shape Vermont Edition as one of the show’s original producers.

We will miss her enthusiasm and her smile.

There will be a memorial service for Susan Keese Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m. at the Williamsville Grange.