Susan Quaid Ayres Weyburn — mother, sister, grandmother, cousin, aunt, friend, teacher — died from pancreatic cancer on July 21 at home in Tarrytown.
Doting mother to David and Jennifer and adoring grandmother of Aedan, Louise, Vera, and Will, she also deeply loved her siblings, Mimi, Frank, and Chris, and their families. Susan’s niece once called her the family’s “proper mommy” because she always had sunscreen, band-aids, travel games, and a detailed plan of action on hand.
The Rivertowns were Susan’s home for nearly half a century: first Dobbs Ferry, then Irvington, and, after seven years in Atlanta, finally Tarrytown. She was a consummate educator who nurtured hundreds of students over her long career. Susan taught for many years as a learning specialist at Springhurst Elementary School in Dobbs Ferry. After retirement she continued to work with students at Fieldston and Windward. Her final assignment was tutoring her grandson Aedan during the pandemic.
Susan was born in Waterbury, CT, in 1944 to the Rev. Francis Oliver Ayres and Florence Watts Ayres. When she was five, the family moved to Brighton, MI, where her father co-founded and directed Parishfield, a progressive “center of renewal for the Church.” She attended boarding school at Northfield in Massachusetts and college at Goucher in Maryland. She earned two master’s degrees at Columbia Teachers College.
Early in her career Susan was struck by the struggles some of her students experienced trying to master the basics. Working to help them overcome their challenges, she realized that she herself had coped with dyslexia. She returned to Teachers College to become a learning specialist, focusing the rest of her career on teaching young students with learning disabilities literacy and numeracy skills to use through the rest of their lives.
Susan loved adventure, oftentimes traveling to visit family across America, Europe, and Asia. A volunteer trip to build a school in Ghana in the 1960’s was particularly impactful. Wherever she was, she enjoyed all forms of culture and history, whether performances, museums, architecture, or food.
Susan was a life-long advocate for civil rights: she attended the March on Washington in 1963, joined the League of Women Voters in the ‘70s and ‘80s, marched on Washington again in 2004 to protest violence against women, mobilized voters to register in Atlanta in 2008, and participated in social justice efforts led by South Presbyterian Church and Coming to the Table. An avid researcher of her family’s history, Susan had recently been reckoning with the legacy of slavery.
Susan spent her last days visiting and corresponding with her loving children and their families, her sister, brother, sister-in-law, niece, multiple cousins, college roommate, former husband, and countless other friends and family. Until the end, she found real joy in keeping in touch and creating community.
A service celebrating Susan’s life is planned for October 9 at 11:00 at South Church in Dobbs Ferry. Donations in remembrance of Susan can be made to the New-York Historical Society.
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