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Remembering Suzanne Stewart (1939–2019)

Suzanne Bestor Stewart passed away recently. Suzanne was well respected and loved at the ASC, where she worked for more than three decades as archaeologist and editor. Suzanne knew her grammar and how to write. As I feebly attempt this piece, I imagine Suzanne putting in hyphens and taking out commas. We never did agree about grammar—I don’t like rules—but Suzanne knew her stuff and was always correct, even when I overruled her over aesthetics.

I considered Suzanne a friend in the Vera Mae Fredrickson genre. Someone honest and straightforward; someone to be a little afraid of [Suzanne would point out: dangling preposition=bad]. I don’t remember when Suzanne arrived at ASC; she may have preceded me. Suzanne probably met the Fredricksons through her sister, who was involved in the music scene there. Suzanne had been an editor of a scientific journal at UCB in the late 1960s. Suzanne got a BA in Anthropology from SSU in 1978 and Dave Fredrickson asked her to join the Warm Spring Dam team. The Warm Springs project itself went through many phases over the decades. Related projects and other activities in the area provided one of Suzanne’s main research focuses over her long career. Suzanne got an MA in CRM in 1993 with a thesis on the Upper Archaic in the Warm Springs area. She met her future husband, Christian Gerike, while working and studying in the CRM program.

Suzanne helped Adrian and I tremendously when we put out our first major report (Historical Archaeology at the Golden Eagle Site) in 1980. This huge tome, with 15 contributors, was prepared on a typewriter—making editing extremely difficult and time consuming. A few years later, the three of us collaborated on the Warm Springs final report series—a comprehensive history and three monographs. I think we did a great job! (The history is on this website, have a look.) When complimented on his writing, Dave Fredrickson always gave full credit to Suzanne and so should we Praetzellises.

Suzanne didn’t use red ink or snide comments to get her edits across. She simply let the changes speak for themselves. Her critical review and keen sense of style helped hundreds of SSU students improve their writing and analytical skills, preparing them for the working world. Suzanne helped scores of students finish their first site report in good form. An archaeologist who cannot express their findings in the written word will always struggle reaching his or her full potential.

Suzanne was a great archaeologist and a brilliant editor. She was the ultimate fixer. She worked hard and never gave up on anything or anyone. Suzanne was missed from the day she retired in 2009. Although she would have edited out the phrase as hyperbole, Suzanne is simply irreplaceable.

Suzanne was an integral part of the ASC family and we hope this site can become a permanent memorial and that others will send us material to build something special. It will be divided into two sections: a photo slide-show and memories. Please email material to ASC@sonoma.edu and we will see it becomes part of the memorial.

Mary Praetzellis, former ASC Associate Director
Adrian Praetzellis, former ASC Director