Susan Jean Byrns, lover of Austrian eiderdown quilts, birds in Christmas trees and straw nativities, passed away unexpectedly at her home at the age of 73. She was born Oct. 3, 1946 in Madison, Wis. to John and Jane (Newcomb) Byrns, the second of 4 children.
After graduation from Wisconsin High School in 1964, Susan attended and graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in French and Education. She began her teaching career in Switzerland and Austria before returning to the UW where she earned master's degrees in both Reading and Library Science. She went on to work for many years as an elementary school librarian in Oregon, Wi, where she was loved by many students.
After retiring, Susie remained active by volunteering at the polls and registering voters, an effort in which she took great pride. She also volunteered every Wednesday at the State Historical Society.
Susie was the glue that held her family together in so many ways. Her passion for her family's genealogy, long before Ancestry.com existed, led her to become the family archivist and librarian. She also had a deep abiding love for the state of Wisconsin-from the Mississippi River, where her family had roots, to Lake Michigan, where she spent her summers at the beloved family cottage at Oostburg.
As caretaker and protector of the house and lands along the lake and creek, Susan spent countless hours with friends and family swimming, paddling, playing in the creek and sharing stories around the campfire. She also guided family children in the fine art of ice cream making, especially the Newcomb favorite, Lemon Velvet. Everyone had to have 100 turns on the old ice cream maker.
Susie's baking skills were legendary, and in the family, she was known as the Pie Queen, learning the art of making pies at the side of her maternal grandmother, Margaret Newcomb. Susie was always happy to share her love of baking with sisters and nieces and nephews, or anyone else who wanted to learn.
Susan had a love for knowledge that she wanted to share with the many children who came in to her classrooms and libraries. But she especially loved sharing with her nieces and nephews, often sending them stories, books and games that she knew they were interested in.
All who were fortunate enough to know Susan will truly miss her warm presence and immense kindness and generosity.
Susan was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents. She is survived by her brother John (Rita) Byrns, her two sisters, Judith Byrns (Joe Bergquist) and Sarah Byrns-Grindrod (Clarence Wilken), her brother-in-law, David Grindrod; her nieces and nephews, Andy Grindrod; Kate Grindrod; Rose Grindrod and John Byrns Jr, her great-nieces and nephews, Craig Grindrod; Flora and Otto Sjachrani and Harry Hamilton, as well as the extended Newcomb Family and many friends in Madison, Oregon and along Lake Michigan.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 25th, at 11:30AM, at Gates of Heaven, 302 E Gorham St, Madison, WI.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to Wisconsin Historical Society, The League of Women Voters, or the Madison Library Foundation.
To send flowers to Susan's family, please visit our floral section.
Madison Library Foundation
201 W. Mifflin St, Madison WI 53703
The League of Women Voters
612 W Main St, Madison WI 53703
Wisconsin Historical Society
816 State St, Madison WI 53706