Her Life

Suzy's Obituary

Suzanne LeClair Wilbur passed away on October 5th, 2020, from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Suzy was born July 11, 1954, in Rochester, New York to Richard and Marian LeClair, and moved to North Hollywood, California shortly thereafter. Another move saw her growing up in Los Altos, California. In her High School years, she moved with her family to La Jolla, California where she graduated from La Jolla High in 1972. Suzy was active in the Sun House youth program of the La Jolla Presbyterian Church, and United Youth Ministries, and participated in the very first pilot program of Summit Expedition, a 21-day backpacking wilderness program with a Christian emphasis. She completed the challenging program, developing a lifelong love of outdoor adventure, including backpacking, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing. She even celebrated her 60th birthday by skydiving. When her parents decided to move back to the Bay Area, Suzy resolved to stay in La Jolla on her own, having developed close ties with friends and her church. 

Being interested in Christian ministry and the arts, Suzy joined the Lamb’s Players, a Christian theater group. She raised her own financial support so she could tour full-time with the Lamb’s players mime troupe, “Hands and Feet.” Suzy remained active in the performing arts throughout her life continuing with the music ministry of the La Jolla Presbyterian Church, and later, the La Jolla Community Church. She toured with a memorable production of “Godspell” and performed in community theater, including Lamb’s Players Theater, Scripps Community Theater, and Octad One Productions. She also did voiceover and acted for numerous industrial videos.

After a 3-year friendship and engagement, Suzy married Bertrand (Randy) Wilbur on December 7th, 1975, and being lovers of the Sierra, they honeymooned in a wintry Yosemite Valley. They were best friends and loving partners for nearly 45 years, raising two wonderful children, Matthew, born in 1981 and Kathryn in 1988. Suzy was an involved mom, always active in the kids’ schools through PTA, special events, and in particular, using her performing and voice talents to read stories to various classrooms including Matt’s and Katy’s. She shared many school outings with her kids including hikes, field trips and extended adventures to Jamestown, and even the Amazon.

Suzy’s working career restarted when she volunteered as a Docent with the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve in Poway. She quickly developed special relationships with staff, donors, and other Docents as she helped with nature walks, special events and educating the public. Attendees to Blue Sky’s Halloween “Hoot, Howl & Prowl” walks will remember her performances as the Black Widow Spider. And who could forget her hilarious mop-headed character, Roadkill Ruthie that would appear during Blue Sky campfire programs? Suzy went on to work full-time at Blue Sky as an assistant interpreter. While at Blue Sky, she developed “Snake Sense,” a popular educational program about the indigenous snakes of San Diego. At one point Suzy had eighteen snakes caged in her family room—including three rattlesnakes—that she used for her presentations.

Suzy then moved on to Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) where she worked in the Camp/Climb Department. She used her own outdoor experiences to help fellow adventurers outfit themselves for their next trip. Suzy continued working and earning both peer and customer recognition until her then-undiagnosed symptoms made it impossible to do so. Over the fourteen years she worked at REI, she developed close friendships with a number of other REI employees, forming what became MAWU (Middle-Aged Women Unite). This small group of amazing women hiked, skied, rafted, and pampered together for many years, and formed lifelong bonds of shared adventure and sisterhood.

Suzy and her husband, Randy were fortunate to be able to have special adventures with extended family, friends and as a couple. She enjoyed many flower hunting trips to the Anza Borrego desert, backpacking, camping and skiing in the High Sierra, touring Alaska, Ireland, England and more. Because of a generation’s old Wilbur connection to the Walton family in Southeast Alaska, Suzy was adopted by the Eagle Wolf Clan and given the Tlingit name, Kaax'achtuk'aax (phonetically it's “kak ash tu gock” with a throaty guttural sound on the last syllable). Of course, Suzy pronounced it beautifully!

Although Suzy was limited by ALS, she and Randy spent two months on the road, taking a 7,000 mile RV trip through the mountains and National Parks of the west, all the way to Jasper National Park in Canada. In true Suzy fashion, she was not going to let her ALS breathing problems keep her from attending niece Cara’s high-altitude wedding in Colorado, nor from topping out at over 13,000 feet on the Imogene Pass Jeep Trail. The highlight of Suzy’s final years was Katy’s marriage to Armin Quintanilla in June of 2019. Suzy was determined to be able to walk down the aisle on Matt’s arm—a feat made possible by Suzy’s resolve and Katy and Armin’s efforts to accelerate their wedding plans.

Anyone that had the joy of knowing Suzy knew that her Christian faith was at the center of her being. To her, Jesus was far more than a Sunday morning thought—Jesus was a living presence in her life. She lived her faith through love and action, whether it be rebuilding houses in Biloxi after Hurricane Katrina, supporting third-world children, weaving sleeping mats for the homeless, or opening her heart to those in need through the military ministry at the La Jolla Community Church. She was thankful for supportive relationships in her Bible study group and church small group. Much of Suzy’s worship centered around song. She had a beautiful voice and she loved to sing praises in the church’s choir and worship band. Tragically, it was in her voice that ALS symptoms first appeared, eventually stealing her gift of song entirely. Though she could no longer talk, walk, or eat, she continued to inspire others with her remarkable faith and courage.

Suzy is survived by her son, Matthew, daughter Kathryn, son-in-law Armin, husband Randy, and her older siblings Bob, Becky, and Lynellyn. Her ashes will be scattered in her beloved High Sierra.