Death of a Classmate


Saturday afternoon before a snowstorm in Michigan. Not just a snowstorm, but the snowstorm after a very unseasonably warm and dry winter. This was the first one of any significance and a foot of snow was expected. And so, uncharacteristic of Michiganders, the grocery stores and roads were packed. As I’m waiting for Katie to pick up a few more items, and I’m standing halfway back through the store with over 20 shoppers in front of me, I decide to check Facebook to keep me entertained. The first post in my newsfeed was from Mark Goff, a dear classmate and friend. His message: Just in case you haven’t heard the news – our classmate Susan Pleasants (Sue Batt) passed away – she was at the reunion – I just wanted everyone to know – gone too soon!

I was in complete shock! I was overwhelmed with emotion and tears were streaming down my face. Although we were not particularly close friends in high school, as many of us were not, I had just seen her,  and had spent time talking with her at the reunion and during the planning. How could this be? Like others, I wondered if she had been ill based on a couple of indicators. But there was no discussion of it in detail on Facebook or in our conversation that beautiful July weekend in Virginia. I was on the planning committee for our reunion and from the time we announced details to the time for the event, Sue had sent me numerous notes letting me know how excited she was to join  all of us for the festivities. Her first note read: Hi Dana..want to come to the do I pay…best wishes, Sue Batt Pleasants. After a couple of months of correspondence, I found her last note to me prior to deadlines, the most interesting. Ok gonna pay soon.. Anxious about seeing who is no longer alive…thanks.

My greatest memory of Sue as a classmate was that evening and how much she wanted to dance. She asked me several times when the dancing would begin. She enjoyed catching up with everyone. Her date was a handsome gentleman that she introduced as Nelson. Sue’s obituary in the Richmond Times Dispatch, painted a loving picture of a life dedicated to her beautiful daughter, her friends and family, and helping others as a nurse. Our classmate Paul, shared old pictures of Sue that he had held in his memories from 1976 when he and Sue dated. Most of us probably weren’t aware of their brief, post-high school relationship, all of which now allows us to know Sue more personally.

Many have said that our reunion weekend was magical. For reasons and memories like this, it truly was. So much so that we are planning another Lee reunion for this coming summer. No, Sue and some others in this special class won’t be joining us in person, but I know they’ll be looking down on us and we’ll be reminded that our Robert E. Lee High School class just might be the most exceptional group of friends to ever grace those historic hallways on Churchville Avenue.




Sue Pleasants –   Picture courtesy Richmond Times Dispatch


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