Generous Susan

April 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

When I am asked what I learned about Susan during my research while I was writing Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House, my reply is always the same. I was overwhelmed by her extreme generosity. I cite several examples of her kindness in Chapter 16 of the book, but since it was written, I discovered a new story with a couple twists.

While writing the book, I came across a November, 1941, newspaper picture of Susan cutting the ribbon at the newly remodeled Rolands Department Store in Springfield, Illinois, a building that she owned. Pictured with several male dignitaries, Susan  looked directly into the camera. Since she was forcibly committed to the hospital in May of 1942, this is probably the last photograph taken of her. It would have been a perfect addition to the last chapter of the book. However, newspaper reprints are too grainy for print reproduction, and I could not find the original, so I dropped that idea.

Weeks after the book was released my friend Penny Wollan Kriel told me how much she enjoyed reading the book, and then she casually added, “I have a picture of Susan Lawrence with my dad.” She went on to explain that her parents moved to Springfield for her father’s job as manager of Rolands, and that he was by Susan’s side at the ribbon cutting. She elaborated. At that time Penny’s older brother was a baby in his mother’s arms. Even in her later years, Susan had a soft spot for infants. To the surprise of Penny’s parents, Susan had her driver take her to the Wollan home  the next day where she presented them with a lap blanket and a cake. After that very brief encounter at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Susan chose to give these newcomers to Springfield these thoughtful gifts!

Penny is looking for that photo, but until she finds it, I’ll share this rather blurry last photo of Susan.

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§ 2 Responses to Generous Susan

  • Nancy Chapin says:

    Maybe several people in Springfield will come forth with pictures now that you’ve made it ‘the thing to do!’

    Another of Susan Lawrence’s kindnesses is detailed in In Lincoln’s Shadow on page 67 by Audrey Vieau, George Hoffman’s daughter.

    • susanandme says:

      Audrey Vieau is the daughter of “the other Susan,” Susan Hoffman Lorshieder. (see pages 33, 79-80, and 98 in “Susan Lawrence, The Enigma in the Wright House). I interviewed Audrey during the research phase of writing the book.

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