Many of you probably don’t know that I had a sister named Susan who died many years ago. I have been thinking about her this week as it would have been her 76th birthday. Here is my story about Susan.

My sister, Susan Melissa Hutchison, was born June 15, 1946 in Boise, Idaho as the first child of Morris Wakefield Hutchison and Dorothy Melissa Glassberg Hutchison. She was seven years older than me, so I know little of her childhood. I do know that she was an excellent student, very hard working, and that hard work earned her excellent grades. She was naturally bright and was willing to put in the work to get top grades. That was in contrast to me; I tended to be happy with whatever grade I could get with only a moderate amount of work.

Susan was part of the first graduating class from Cascade High School in Everett, Washington. From high school, Susan went on to study journalism at the University of Washington. Her journalism interests followed in the footsteps of our grandfather, Abe Glassberg, one time editor of the Everett Herald newspaper. She pledged to the Chi Omega sorority and embarked upon an exciting college career. It was during her second year of college, in the midst of a serious illness that wouldn’t go away, that she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease or Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer of the lymph nodes. She was 18 years old. Today, Hodgkin’s disease is generally a curable cancer. This was not true in 1964, when Susan was diagnosed. She started a long and arduous procedure of radiation treatment. Somehow she kept up her school work and extracurricular activities and graduated with honors. With the shadow of cancer still hanging over her, and occasional flare-ups, she valiantly went on to begin an excellent career as a journalism professional.

She first landed at the Lewiston, Idaho Morning Tribune. I remember visiting her for her birthday the year she was there. I was a young high school student and flew to Lewiston where she picked me up. I baked her a cake; I remember it as being two lop-sided layers, but she thought it was wonderful. It was a delightful moment together. From Lewiston, she went to the Vancouver (WA) Columbian. Then she landed her dream job as the environmental reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1969. She had an immediate impact, earning the respect of her peers. While on vacation in Ottawa, Canada, she learned that the then 21 year old, Prince Charles of England, was visiting the city. There was a press briefing and somehow she wrangled her way in and wrote a by-lined article about the experience. This very cool article is copied below. But the cancer was there, lurking in the background. Publicly, Susan seemed to pay it no heed. Certainly, she must have struggled privately, but she was strong, so strong, to all she met.

Probably through her environmental work, Susan met John Bosch, who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. They fell in love and married in a beautiful, Christmas-themed, wedding on December 19, 1970 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bremerton, where my parents and I were living at the time. John’s work took them first to Vancouver, BC where they lived in one of the high rise apartments in downtown Vancouver. I remember a visit and being amazed at their view…and, as a teenager at the time, at John’s fancy stereo system. Not long after that they moved to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina.

On September 26, 1971, Hodgkin’s Disease struck its final blow when Susan died quite suddenly while in North Carolina. She had been married a little over 9 months and her beloved husband John was grief-stricken. Her death arrived so suddenly that none of us were prepared. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing the furnace running in our Bremerton home. I got out of bed to turn it off and saw that lights were on upstairs where my parents slept. I went upstairs and found my parents sitting up in bed with the lights on and my dad reading the Bible. They explained that Susan had died and had to explain to me about Hodgkin’s Disease.

There was a tremendous outpouring of love and respect from Susan’s colleagues. She made such a big impression in such a short time. Included below is her obituary from the Everett Herald. But most striking are the two editorials about her that were printed in the University of Washington Daily and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. To quote the editorial from The Daily, “She had a choice between despair and dedication, between self-pity and service to the people. She made the choice early, and it filled her with that quiet inner glow. What a terrible waste? Yes, but also what a tremendous accomplishment.”

The Society of Professional Journalists established an award in her name. The Susan Hutchison Bosch award is described as follows on the website of the Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (accessed 6/16/2022). “Susan Hutchison Bosch, an environmental affairs reporter for the Seattle P-I, contracted lymphoma at the age of 18 while a student at the University of Washington and died of Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 25 in 1971. Bosch personified intellectual honesty, deep understanding of people and their problems, abiding fairness, grace, perseverance and quiet courage, according to the board that established this award in her honor. Though afflicted with Hodgkin’s disease, she rejected despair and chose to live a fully committed life. The award is presented only when the recipient is judged uniquely qualified and his or her work reflects the qualities Bosch defined in life.”

Susan would have been 76 years old yesterday and I kind of feel like I am still learning about her. She was kind, kind, kind and smart, smart, smart. We were just starting our adult relationship when she died and I feel like I missed a lot. I so look forward to getting to know Susan better when I meet her in heaven. Happy birthday, Sis.


Susan (on left) and her friend Kristi in England.