My mom.


Formalwear in the kitchen at 409 Ball.



She was born Sue Ellen Scales in the farmlands of Ohio on January 12th, 1931 to Helen (Armstrong) and Rufus Scales. The first of five children, Sue excelled in school. She and her siblings were involved in every possible extra curricular activity. As she put it, “There were so few students in the class, if we didn’t participate there would be nothing.” Sue did well in many areas but especially enjoyed art. She attended DePauw University and it was there that she met Fred Howard. Sue received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and, attracted by Fred’s mad ping-pong and rock star rock-skipping skills, she married him in 1953. The young couple did the Midwest circuit during their first few years, Fort Wayne, Fort Knox (while Fred was in the Army), Flint … having three children along the way. They eventually settled down in Ortonville, Michigan where they lived in the same house on Ball Street for the next 60 years.

After marrying Fred, Sue’s sarcasm reached its brilliance. She honed her expertise in the backhanded compliment to an innocuously sharp point. She apologizes posthumously if she offended you. Consider this: If she loved you, she ribbed you. And she loved a lot of people. Sue loved opera, and could answer every question asked on the Texaco Opera Quiz. In the 1970s, she enjoyed working the concessions counter at the Fisher Theater in Detroit, where she got to experience many Broadway productions, plays and musicals.

Sue taught art for the Brandon School district for six years and, as there was no official art room, she pushed her “art cart” down the hall and into each elementary school classroom. After her art-cart stint, Sue taught private art lessons. Young and old came to her home to learn composition, painting, drawing, and to work with clay while NPR broadcast in the background. A former student stated recently, “I see beautiful creations and colors because she took the time to teach me to see them.” Sue was also known for her many pen and ink drawings of local homes, businesses and historic buildings. She enjoyed going to the grocery store and hearing former students greet her with, “Hello Mrs. Art Teacher!”

Sue completed New York Times crossword puzzles in record time – even the Sunday edition! She was a wiz at Sudoku and you could not challenge her word in Scrabble and expect to win.

Sue was Brandon Township’s Citizen of the year in 2007.

Her faith was very important to her and she was a member of the Ortonville United Methodist Church for many years. Sue devoted her life to ending hunger and was a co-founder of OCEF and volunteered for the CROP walk.

As time went on, Sue had to give up things such as her ability to work with clay. She eventually gave up painting. An avid reader, when Sue’s macular degeneration made reading difficult, she said her job now was to observe. She turned her attention to the lake on which she had lived for nearly 60 years. The lake and its surroundings had changed over time – slowly at first, then more quickly. Then MUCH more quickly. But always, there was the soap opera of nature which she would regularly report on – muskrats, birds, herons, owls, stray cats … the usual characters playing out their roles before her eyes, in her backyard.

Sue wrote:

The flowers, joyously alive,
neither know nor would care
if they knew that the man
with a sign ” The end is near“
holds the truth in his hand.
The pink tongue of the
thirsty cat shatters the
sky reflected in a
saucer of water.
How beautiful, how fleeting,
how eternal life is when
I forget time for a moment.
and then I take another
breath on the way to what comes next.

Sue Howard passed away on April 25, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husband Fred, her siblings Bill, Sally, & Jane, and her beloved cat “Shorty”. She is survived by her brother John (Karen) Scales, her children Mark (Toni) Howard, Heidi Keesling and Marcy (Bob) Merrill. She also leaves behind 4 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

 She blacked out Ted Nugent ’cause, “He’s an ass.”


 Sue and the lake.


 Fred and Sue.


 My mom and dad.
 My mom and dad just yesterday.






The big day.


Sue in the garden.


Ping pong and Converse.


Cedar Lake.

46 Responses

  1. She sounds like you Marcy Merrill, your artistic flair, your love of animals and your quick wit. She lives on through you. Love and my deepest condolences to you and your family.

  2. Marcy, we have been friends for a long time. Unfortunately, I never met your mother, but I now see a lot of her in you. My condolences, friend.

  3. Living and lovely tribute to your brilliant and talented mom. Now I understand you better and see where your wit, artistic creativity, and generous spirit was nurtured and blossomed so completely. Sue sounds like a person I would have liked knowing a lot. Condolences for you in this sad time, tho she left a lifetime of inspiration and memories.

  4. This is one of the most moving, intelligent, humorous, and loving tributes I’ve ever read. I would love to have known your mother, but I feel like I knew her a little through the little I know you. It’s easy to see where your marvellous personality and talent came from. Sincere condolences to you and the rest of your family Marcy. Hugs from Vancouver Island. Cam and Ruth McCubbin

  5. What a cool beauty, so proud of the woman you became, Sunday Times puzzle is no joke.

    Should be required entry for Presidential run, forever.

    My condolences to you and your family, such a heritage!

  6. Oh my goodness , Marcy , what a fabulous tribute and priceless photos!
    Just lovely . Thank you for sharing .
    Aunt Sue will be dearly missed . Her artwork is hanging throughout our home and at the cabins .
    Thinking of you ❤️

  7. Marcy,
    Beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing and the pics are amazing. I’m sorry to hear about S. It’s funny, I thought about the art cart and mentioned it in a condolence message to Heidi before reading your obituary…..ahhh the things people remember. Love and condolences to you.

  8. What an incredible life and what a perfect tribute. Not easy to strike the perfect tone to capture a person but you sure did it. Sending lots of hugs to you and your family ❤️

  9. Beautiful tribute to your mom. I see where you acquired your artistic talent and creative flair. Sending condolences to you and your family. May memories of her sustain you as your mourn.

  10. Such a beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss and so moved by the life she lived, so glad to know you, as you are of course a gift from her. ❤️

  11. Oh Marcy, this memorial is remarkable, true, insightful, beautiful and all around PERFECT! I love/loved your mom in so many ways. She was a true friend, a confidant, precious, funny and all around one of the best human beings that walked this place we call Earth. She will truly be inside all of us, who loved her, and HER life will carry-on through us. Bless all of you and yours.

  12. Dear Marcy…what a beautiful eulogy for your mother. Your mom sounds like she lived life to its’ fullest and enjoyed her gift as an artist by sharing it with all that answered her call. Today was a hard day for you…but think of a good time you had with her and rejoice. You will see her again in your art and writings…and it will bring a smile to your face.
    written to my dear friend Marcy Merrill with love and compassion ….the Old Marine

  13. Beautiful words for a beautiful soul. Marcy you are one of her most beautiful works of art. Sending you love & light. ❤️

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve lost my mother as well. It’s hard, I know. But keep doing the things you love and the things you believe in. She would want that for you. Anyone who loves you would. Remember her goodness and character always. Somehow I think she would want that.
    Take care my friend, and prayers your way.
    Hugging you through cyberspace.

    You have beautiful memories of her. Keep them in your heart. And whenever you need to talk, she is there always for you. I talk with my Mom all the time. It feels good.

  15. Marcy, I am in awe of your mom and her impact she must’ve left on this earth. What a beautiful tribute to her. Her art, quick wit, sarcasm, and beauty I see in you. A wonderful, wonderful life!

  16. Dearest Marcy, Your Mom. What a wonderful tribute to a life well loved.
    My tenderest compassion to All feeling her loss.

  17. I’m so sorry for your loss Marcy. This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. I am sure there is a great reunion happening not just with Fred and her loved ones but with Shorty as well. May she rest easy and may you and your family find peace with her passing.

  18. So sorry to learn of your mother’s passing, Marcy. It sounds as though she was a lot of fun and a talented individual. Just like you….

  19. What a legacy your wonderful mother left, much reflected in your Spirit, that Joy for life and making Magickal the Mundane… my sincere sympathy and huge Hugz sent to you all… 🙏🏼💜🌺

  20. I love this tribute, Marcy. Truly reflects the essence of Sue. Missing her a lot tonight, but also feeling memories — and all of them are good. For some reason I am recalling a particular conversation where I asked Sue if she played bridge. She replied, “I don’t play bridge and I don’t clean fish!” It was spoken with such conviction that it stuck with me ever after. I don’t know where you are, but Gabe and I are hugging you. Tomorrow we’ll light a candle all day and think of Sue, Fred, you, Bob, Heidi, and all those who were close to Sue. Lots of love…

  21. A beautifully written tribute. Thank you for sharing her with us in this way, and for reminding us of the beauty and brevity of life. Blessings and comfort to you in this time.

  22. I’m so sorry, Marcy.

    Thank you for sharing a small glimpse of her brilliant journey. I know that her love for art and quick wit, amongst many other things, live on through you.

  23. What a beautiful tribute to the obviously vibrant, talented and exceptional person that your mom was. My condolences to you and your family on your loss. May your many memories carry you through this difficult time – one day at a time.

  24. I am so sorry for your loss. Your mom was my art teacher when I was younger and she was amazing and taught me to truly see the beauty in things. I will be forever grateful for the time she taught me, she was truly amazing and will be missed.

  25. One of the hardest things in this world is to see our parents move on to the next. So very sorry for your loss, I see her through you and your beautiful tribute. You’re not into hugs, but here’s one anyway.

  26. She sure sounds like a unique, spirited mentor , fun loving wife, grandmother, great grandmother and wonderful mother. Rest in peace.☮️💖

  27. I see where you get your talent. She sounds like a magnificent mama and human. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  28. A beautiful tribute. The words painted a picture of your mom for me. Sending support for your loss.

  29. Sorry for your loss. She sounded like a wonderful woman. I can see where you got your talents from.

  30. Beautifully written. I enjoyed learning about your mom and her life. Sending condolences for your loss.

  31. Amazing tribute Marcy how good of you and Heidi and mark to let you write it. You have a flair for a phrase. I’m sorry for all of you but know you were blessed with talent and wit….

  32. Another sparkling soul I wish I would have known. May His peace guide you the rest of the way.

  33. What an amazing Mom and a beautiful tribute along with priceless photographs. She sounds like a kindred soul. I am sorry for your loss Marcy. May all the good memories bring you comfort now & always. Much love Marcy & family.

  34. Marcy, I loved your parents very much! Your Mom was a wonderful neighbor and friend. She will be forever in my heart and the hearts of my husband and children. I am so sorry for your loss.

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