Susan L. French-Brandscheid, age 70, passed away Tuesday, September 11, 2018 in Madison. She was born on August 8, 1948 to the late John G. and Margie J. (Ure) French.
She married Dieter Brandscheid in Madison in 1970. Susie graduated from Belvidere (IL) High School and later attended Rock Valley (IL) Junior College and UW-Madison. She was an employee at UW-Madison for many years, retiring as Assistant to the Dean of the Journalism School. She loved working with and helping students and the faculty and staff. Her passions were reading, ballet, history, and travel. She loved to cook and attended culinary school in France. Above all, she loved her family and friends and her cats.
She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Dieter; her brother Michael (Mary) French; her dear friends Lloyd and Sue Hanson and their children and Susie's godchildren, Brin, Ann and Jed; and many in-laws, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents.
A memorial gathering will be held on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the no-kill animal shelter of your choice.
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Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
I am saddened to hear this news. I was a graduate student in the late 1980s, and Susie was the kind person in the front office with all of the answers. No question was too silly or too complicated for Susie, and she made everyone feel welcome and valued. We kept in touch after I graduated, and I will miss her.
How rare it is to work with someone so kind, so generous, so good-humored, and still so professional! She shared her amazing institutional knowledge with faculty, staff and students, but especially with us graduate students. I had questions about my financial aid, about the transferability of course credits, about how to make purchases with grant money, about how faculty affairs worked. No question could stump Susie. The best way I can summarize her expertise is to paraphrase a bumper sticker that used to grace her office wall: “Why yes, actually, I do know Jack ____.” But she also lent cultural vitality to the SJMC community. I remember conversations with her about ballet, theater, art exhibits (in town, in Milwaukee, in Chicago), and of course — of course — cooking. And within our JMC orbit, Susie frequently attended research colloquia and guest lectures; hers were among the most thoughtful questions and commentary. I loved being part of the SJMC’s shared intellectual life, and I think Susie had a great, great deal to do with that. May her spirit live on in the School.
Dieter and family, my heart goes out to you. I was a doctoral student in the mid-80s, and Susie and I became good friends. We had lunches together many times, and she even loaned me your house one time, so I could fix dinner for a date. That was Susie. I have a good set of Henckel knives because she took a cooking class and came back telling me those were the knives to get. Truly, she had a profound influence on my life that continues today. I don't think it too strong a word to say I loved Susie. She was truly special. I haven't seen her in many years, but I continued to think of her as a friend. The world has lost a star.
Festus Eribo: Susan Brandscheid was an iconic and towering figure. She was a personification of awesomeness, goodness, and kindness. My memory of Susie is indelible. She represented the best Angels in America. She will be fondly remembered worldwide. She provided moral and academic support throughout my graduate education in Madison, Wisconsin. Today, I cried for Susie. May her soul rest in eternal peace. Amen.
Although I was never a graduate student at UW-Madison, I grew to know and love Susie as a friend and supporter while my husband Frank pursued his PhD there. As with others, she was our first contact at the J-School. Susie helped us find the apartment we lived in, driving us all over town until we spotted something we could afford, and she was always a great person to go to when we needed a sympathetic ear or a bit of straight talk. I always appreciated her sense of humor, especially the “I do know Jack” bumper sticker in her office (wish I could find one for myself!). The J-School was a warmer and livelier place because of her. It was a privilege to have known her, and she is dearly missed. ~ Meenakshi Gigi Durham
I am so sorry for your loss. Remember you have many friends who would be there for you in your time of need don’t hesitate to call any of us if we can help you in any way.
God bless you
Susie was the first person in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison that I talked to, first in a phone call and then in person. She made me, an international graduate student, feel at home in Vilas. Years later, when I came back to work in Vilas, Susie was still in the same office, with the same infectious laughter and warmth. I will miss her dearly.
This note is excerpted from a letter I had the honor of writing for Susie, which first gave me the opportunity to set down in writing just how much I appreciated and respected her both in her role and as a person. I am so very saddened by her passing.
Susie was a bright light in the world, and I was grateful to know her and fortunate to have her in my life and in my doctoral program. She was integral to my success and that of a great many others in the Ph.D. program, in her role as Graduate Student Adviser in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Susie Brandscheid worked in the J‐School for 35+ years, and I knew her since about 2001. Even before I got there, Susie was generous and supportive. When I finally walked into her office after arriving in Madison in August 2002, and sat down in the chair opposite her desk where so many graduate students have sat over the years, I felt instantly welcomed and supported. Over the next years, no matter what Susie might have been doing—and she did so much!—if graduate students needed her, we would be invited to sit down, and given the attention we needed. No matter how immense the piles of work on her desk, she would take the time, every single time, to help us get what we needed, whether it was information on teaching assistantships and assignments or the complexities of enrollment or preliminary exams to get to candidacy. And her workload was immense: Our running joke was to lament the existence of computers—I kept offering to throw the piles of paper on her desk out the window, but alas… they’d just be reprinted. But no matter how busy Susie might have been or how complex the request might be, Susie would always find an answer, always find a way to make things work to make sure we were funded and making good progress, and knew what we needed to know to be successful. During my time in the Ph.D. program, Susie never, ever let me down.
What’s more, Susie always did everything with a smile. Her personality played a large part in how she connected so well with graduate students. She had wit and humor, warmth and compassion, and she was a safety net for graduate students in terms of helping them negotiate all aspects of the graduate program, and not just the administrative. She took the time to get to know me as a whole person and not just in my role in the program, and that sense of connection I had to Susie added greatly to the experience. She also guided students proactively, helping them plan their programs, understand how to make requests and look for mentoring and support. I know that many, many times, she told me a piece of information that was important to my moving forward, that I needed, but that I didn’t know I needed! She smoothed my path and that of others. Not once did she refuse to help anyone, and I never once saw her appear impatient or anything less than positive, not even in difficult moments. She was always a warm presence, a lovely person to say hello to every day, someone to whom one could always go for help—and as a result, she was held in high regard by graduate students. She invested in graduate students. She invested in me, and throughout my time at UW‐Madison, I felt the warmth of her presence and the generosity of her efforts to support me in my program.
Just one example of the many times that Susie came through for me at a critical moment was when I was conducting fieldwork overseas. The funding for my research came from multiple sources, and one critical disbursement had to take place at a specific time, while I was overseas and not able to chase down the paperwork in person. Susie went above and beyond what she needed to do to make sure that my funding came through and was disbursed in a timely fashion. This was critical not just for me to do my research, but to be housed and fed while I was overseas. Had it not been Susie at the other end of the line, I would have been so very worried at a critical time in my doctoral career. But precisely because it was Susie, I knew that everything would be sorted, and that task was one big detail I didn’t have to worry about. In general, I always knew that I could bring any problem to her, and she would solve it. Because Susie was there for graduate students, I knew that everything would be all right. My trust in her allowed me to focus on doing what I had to do to succeed in the program.
Susie Brandscheid worked early and late, was available when you need her, and did more than one would imagine one person could. She had the intricacies of the administrative process and the graduate program at her fingertips. She cheered graduate students on when they needed cheering on, and rejoiced in their successes when they succeeded. She believed deeply in the graduate students as well as in the educational goals of the Ph.D. program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and she did all she could to cultivate community, connect students to each other, and make sure she was connected to us. Also, she was a fierce advocate for the graduate students, supporting us in all ways, and fighting battles for us of which we might have been only dimly aware. She knew all, and she did all.
For me, Susie Brandscheid was the beating heart of the graduate program in the Journalism School. I absolutely loved getting my doctorate in the School of Journalism, and have a deep and abiding appreciation for the program, the faculty, my advisers, and my friends and colleagues from the program. I prize the education and community that I had the privilege of finding there. But I know that I could not have gotten through without Susie’s unwavering support throughout my time there, from the first minute to the very last.
Susie Brandscheid deserves a standing ovation for her decades of service, her passion, her humor, her warmth, her generosity (including toward cats, another thing over which we bonded!), her unfailing good cheer, her amazing knowledge of the systems and processes of the school, the college and the university in general, and most of all her unwavering advocacy for graduate students. She was the best of the best.
I was Susie's next-door neighbor. We shared a love of animals. She had cats and I had dogs. She was sensitive to the well-being of all animals. She took extra measures year-round to offer food and shelter to stray cats in our neighborhood. Many were tamed and given medical care. Susie made delicious glazed pecans and shared them with neighbors. She was part of our neighborhood Book Club. Her comments were perceptive and humorous. She was kind and humble. I wasn't even aware of her accomplishments and high regard as a University of Wisconsin employee. She was a good neighbor and I'll miss her.
Susie was my friend and helpmate from my very first days as an assistant professor at the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She was the dominant institutional memory in the school and could thread her way through almost any piece of the university bureaucracy. We all relied on her daily, and she never failed to offer help way beyond her official duties. Her "cat whisperer" expertise also saved the lives of at least two of my own cats, as Susie stepped in to diagnose and solve issues that could have been lethal. She was a great friend, and I will miss her dearly.
I worked with Susie when I was a professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, from the late 90s til about five years ago. She was one of my favorite people there - kind, smart, funny. I never had a problem that she didn't try to help me fix. She'll be wholly missed as a colleague - and as one great friends. Sending much sympathy, Deborah Blum
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