Susan Wilson Byers

Profile Updated: June 15, 2018
Susan Wilson Byers
Class Year: 1970
Residing In: Alexandria, VA USA
Spouse/Partner: Len Slobodin
Occupation: Former Writer/Editor/Graphic Artist, then Program Manager, Women's Business, SBA RETIRED!!
Children: Samuel, born here, 1992; Zoe, born Viet Nam, 1993; Leah, born China, 1995; Ben, born Viet Nam, 1998
Yes! Attending Reunion

Left VCU junior year (sick)(again) and went back in '75 to complete a BFA (interior design, not my best decision). Got married, worked as an interior designer then display artist in Richmond, got divorced and lucked into a job as a writer & graphic artist with the government in DC for the next 25 years. Met and married (1990) my best friend and we adopted 4 kids (US, China and Viet Nam) and an ever-changing collection of critters. Last worked as a program manager for the Office of Women's Business Ownership at the Small Business Administration, overseeing grants to 28 women's business centers in New England and the Southeast. Lost my parents in 2011 and 2013, so no reason to stick around here. Retired in September 2016 when the youngest headed off to college, then goodbye DC, with your crowds and traffic and airs of self-importance. We recently bought a fifth wheel trailer, which we're renovating, and a big, bad-daddy biodiesel truck. We plan to sell the house and most of what's in it, and take off to see the country for a couple of years while we decide where we want to settle down (right now, New England is likely, but who knows?). Recommendations are welcome!

How often do you get back to Alexandria?

Lived in Richmond for 10 years, but have been back here since 1985.

Do you still see/talk to/hang out with any classmates? Who?

I've been in touch with a few and bumped into a few, but since reconnecting a few years ago, have mostly stayed in touch with Scott Ainslie, who's a remarkable and respected performer of and teacher about Delta Blues, and Sharon Evans. Also facebook with him, Mike Dresser, Ed Tittel, Sharon, WC Frome, Rita Fox (teacher), but would be happy to be friended by more!

What would we be surprised to know about you?

I'm not sure anybody would be surprised at anything about me. Maybe that I ended up working for the government for 30 years ... sure surprised me!

What are your memories of high school (i.e. secret crush, embarrassing moment, funniest thing you did in high school, favorite high school hang out, favorite teachers)?

My years at Ft. Hunt were some of the best of my life. I never felt a connection to VCU; my alma mater is FHHS. Walking those halls when the first kid started there (junior high) brought back such a rush of wonderful memories ... and tears. Thanks, guys. We had something special ...

Embarrassing moment--when I refused to believe Mr Bonano was really a teacher (he looked SO young!).

Fave hangout: backstage, folk club & the Swiggards'.

Favorite teachers: Rita Fox, art teacher and friend; Ed Gassek, teacher, mentor, friend, life-changer; Mr. Hessler, who made earth science cool and taught me to read a topo map, which enabled me to locate my fifth-great grandparents' farm in Kentucky; John Patrick Dingle, who was so cute and so hip (that long hair and those round wire rims!) and kept even me interested in government; Mrs. Roussos, who made biology really interesting; Sally Wilson, who told me I could be a good writer if I worked at it. It took awhile, Mrs. Wilson, but I did okay!

Biggest thing you would do differently if you went back to your time at high school?

Believe in myself, work harder at things I wasn't so good at, actually read Gilgamesh (or was it The Nibelungenlied? Whichever it was I was supposed to compare to The Odyssey ...). Sing.

Susan Wilson's Latest Interactions

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May 28, 2020 at 4:34 AM
Susan Wilson Byers has left an In Memory comment for Karin Halsted.
Jan 02, 2020 at 8:33 PM

Karin was a very sweet young woman and a friend, and her sudden loss was a real shock. 

Jul 04, 2019 at 1:36 PM

Welcome, Mary! Put some info in here so people know what you've been up to and what you're doing in retirement. Hope all is well!

May 28, 2019 at 4:33 AM
Aug 17, 2018 at 5:22 PM

Marnee! I have spent so many hours online looking for you! I thought I found you once, and sent an email, but it must have been an old address, because I never heard back. Welcome back to FHHS! Email me and let's catch I am so glad to find you again!

Jun 15, 2018 at 6:34 PM
Susan Wilson Byers changed her profile picture.
Jun 15, 2018 at 6:29 PM
Jun 13, 2018 at 12:46 PM

Good to see you here!

May 28, 2018 at 4:33 AM
May 28, 2017 at 4:33 AM
May 28, 2016 at 4:33 AM
May 28, 2015 at 4:33 AM
Susan Wilson Byers has left an In Memory comment for Clifford Alan Rettig.
Feb 13, 2015 at 4:34 PM


CLIFFORD A. RETTIG, (51) of Alexandria, VA on August 24, 2003. Beloved fiance of Cynthia A. Backe of Alexandria; loving son of William and Dixie Rettig of Alexandria; father of Nicholas W. Rettig of Alexandria; brother of Mary E. Huntzinger of Stafford and Robert W. Rettig of Alexandria. Also survived by six nieces and nephews. Mr. Rettig was the owner of Aurora Construction Company of Alexandria. Family will receive friends on Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m. at DEMAINE FUNERAL HOME, 520 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA, where a Memorial Service will be held on Friday, August 29, 2003 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Queens Street Clinic, 1000 Queen St., Alexandria, VA 22314.

Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 26, 2003

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Sep 26, 2014 at 4:33 PM

If you were lucky, you had one or two teachers who changed your life. For me--and for so many others--Ed was one of those rare and gifted people. He was not just a teacher; he was a mentor and friend, even after high school. He shared his family with us--I remember when little Laura Lenora Gassek was born, and later babysitting for her; and time spent at his and Gerri's home.  Among the greatest gifts he gave us--as others have noted--was either self-confidence (at an age when few have little, if any)--or the ability to bluff your way through almost anything.  Transferring out of the typing class Mom made me take ("so you have something ot fall back on") and into Drama was one of the smartest things I ever did ... even if I did have to play Miss Mazeppa as my first assignment ("Who needs an extra person?") ... I got a C, but A's after that, and by the end of the year, I coulda done Mazeppa with a convincing bump and grind.  The world was sadly diminished when Ed Gassek was taken all too young--but in a very real way, he lives on in those whose lives he changed. We were, indeed, very lucky.

Sep 05, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Yup, that's you, alright! Haven't changed a bit since we visited! How are you guys?