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All About Sue

It is with great sorrow that we must announce the death of Sue Baldwin.

Wow. The sentence seems almost tacky. “great sorrow.” I read those words and it sounds like a novice’s first attempt at a Hallmark sympathy card.



But in my case, it’s real. Sue was a close friend, an advisor, an excellent person. The general public may have no idea who she is, but if you are in the orbit of either the local history or theater communities, you at least know of her, for she left an indelible stamp in both areas during her life here.

 

I’ve known her for years but, like Melchizidek in the Bible, I can’t honestly tell you a thing about her past – where she came from before her arrival in ENC, her early family life. But I worked with her in both theater and in the Historical Society’s Ghost Walk many times.


Sue, and her husband John, just a few years ago were one of the leading families in local theater. They starred together in the Civic’s “On Golden Pond,” and appeared either together or separately in numerous shows. I believe Sue’s last stage performance was in a production of The House of Seven Gables. She told me after that one, that she was aging out on the ability to memorize lines and she had decided it would be her last time walking the boards.

 

The first time I worked with her in a production, she was my producer when I directed “You Can’t Take It With You” for the Civic some years back. I directed her in two of my murder mysteries, acting as Mother Christmas in “The Miscreant’s Christmas” and as the retired and deceptively addled sleuth Miss Murple in “Miss Murple’s Last Case.” She has also coached my actors in our stage production of the Wright Brothers story, “Flight.”



She was a little, unpresuming lady with an incurable smile. At first glance you would imagine her handing our programs rather than being the brains and brawn behind a show—but watching her work the actors, she was a marvel. I was in awe of the way she encouraged and cajoled and helped actors drag characters out of the scripts and their own souls, to be displayed on stage.

 

She was a driver, she was – but instead of a whip she had determination, spunk and charm. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone—she believed so much in her cast that even the most “untalented” of them soon believed in themselves, and in development of a character that can be all the difference.

 

For a number of years I worked with her with the Historical Society’s Ghost Walk—I ran the cemetery part of the event, she ran the house performers.

 

I can remember no time when I’ve seen her or met with her that I didn’t walk away feeling better than when the day began.

 

She recently was laid low with pneumonia and, in treating that the physicians found cancer in her lungs. She was being treated for both when I visited her, just two days ago, in her hospital room at CarolinaEast. She was talkative, charming as always despite her difficulty with breathing and with her pain. She talked of going home, of being ready to fight the cancer for all she is worth.

 

I walked away from that visit feeling somehow encouraged and better. Today I received the call of her passing and I’m walking around stunned, but glad for having known her, looking forward to seeing her spirit carried on.

 

She’s gone now—decorating heaven, no doubt preparing the next Easter commemoration show for the Divine. In her risen form, no doubt, she’s still got a great smile.

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