Susan Arrington Madsen departed this life on Christmas morning, December 25, 2023, after a rich and accomplished life. She was 69 years of age. Her fierce interest in “ordinary souls,” and her hilarious sense of humor will be sorely missed.
Susan was born on August 25, 1954 in Logan Utah; the youngest of three children, and only daughter of Leonard J. Arrington and Grace Fort. Following in the wake of her two beloved older brothers, she grew up more interested in climbing trees, playing basketball, and jumping on inner tubes than playing with dolls.
Susan graduated from Logan High School in 1972. She was particularly fond of those happy years, where she was a brilliant member of the debate team, editor of the school newspaper, and the first junior voted “Girl of the Year.” One more facetious accomplishment…her founding of a bonafide club for short people, appropriately dubbed “The Squatty Bodies.” (Being 5’2 or shorter was required for membership. Their motto? “We shall under-come.”) For obvious reasons, she was voted “Most Witty” of her graduating class. Indeed, her mischievous and practical-joke-loving nature ran full throttle in those days... Suffice it to say that toilet-papering was a well-honed skill, and no street sign, cemetery headstone, or JB’s Restaurant Big Boy statue was safe.
Her emerging love for writing and publishing in high school gave way to her pursuit of a degree in Journalism from Utah State University. She was soon introduced to a certain “Dr. Madsen,” a newly appointed professor in the music department, and very much the eligible bachelor. She and Dean were married in August of 1974, and nurtured a powerful partnership that spanned 45 years. Their love story is one for the ages.
Weathering five difficult pregnancies, Susan brought four daughters into the world and one son, who died two days after his birth. She was fiercely devoted to motherhood, viewing it not as a begrudging act of duty, but a deliberately chosen path. “I am grateful every day that I have had the blessing and privilege of being home with my children,” she would later write. “I have no regrets whatsoever.”
Susan’s contributions to the writing of Church History were groundbreaking. Her authorship of ten books comprise an acute interest in the stories of “ordinary souls.” Preserving the stories of women and children was her particular passion.
Susan was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taking particular joy in working with the young women and teaching gospel doctrine classes. Her unsung heroics include her support of Dean in his service as bishop, stake president, and stake patriarch. The culmination of their service together: a service couple’s mission, as Presidents of the Galilee, Israel Branch.
Her interests were wide and varied: She loved horseback riding and snow skiing with her daughters, relished yard work, and was an avid genealogist from the age of 14. She adored many pets in her lifetime, most notably “Hobbes,” her beloved cross-eyed cat, roughly the size of a Shetland pony.
Grandmothering was the pinnacle of her delight, a role in which she played a mean game of Old Maid (during which she would occasionally cheat), and cheered at too many piano recitals, soccer games, and concerts to count.
At the heart-breakingly-young age of 47, Susan received the sobering diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Her response was doggedly practical: “Don’t wallow in things you can’t change, and keep living life.” And she did so, resisting the disease for over twenty years as she served, laughed, wrote, white-water rafted, attended her weekly Parkinson’s patient boxing class, and weathered the care and passing of Dean following his Ahlzheimer’s diagnosis.
Even in her final months in an assisted living center, her optimistic nature and legendary sense of humor persevered. (Those hilarious cartoon clippings secretly posted in the care center’s elevator? Yep, that was Mom.) Our grief at this time of her passing is tempered only by the thought of her moving on to “raise a ruckus” in the life to come.
Susan was preceded in death by her husband Dean, her parents, and her infant son Daniel Eric Madsen.
She is survived by four daughters: Emily (David), Becca (Matt), Sarah (Greg), Rachel (Brady); 17 beloved grandchildren, and brothers James (Colleen) and Carl.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, January 2, 2024 at the Hyde Park Stake Center (525 E. 200 S. Hyde Park, Utah). Viewings will be held on Monday evening, January 1 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, and prior to the services on Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30 AM in the same location.
Charitable donations in Susan’s name may be made to the Arrington Collection at USU Special Collections, and to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Deepest thanks to Chani Krogue and the staff at Maple Springs assisted living center, and nurse practitioner Glade C. Welker for their expert and tender care of Susan at the end of her beautiful life; and to Brianna Isaacson, whose inspired appearance fulfilled Susan’s last wish: to complete her life history.
Funeral services will be livestreamed via the link below (passcode: Madsen)
Susan Madsen - Funeral Service Audio Only