Susan Dunscombe would have shied away from such a public notice like an obituary but would have appreciated being remembered by those who loved her and called her a friend. She was a private person but an adventurous, fun-loving and very kind soul.
Born to Dr. John and Jeannette Ferguson, and the eldest of four, Susan was raised in Newton, where her father had a private practice. She later attended Simpson College and moved to Iowa City where she met her future husband, businessman and jazz drummer, David Dunscombe.
In the 1970s with their two children in tow, Susan and David traveled around the U.S. in a school bus renovated by David. The tiny house on wheels landed the young family in sunny Florida where Susan worked at the Kennedy Space Center supporting many missions throughout the decades. She was a consummate professional and often requested by name to start new contracts at KSC. A beloved niece remembers her this way, “she taught me about the need to stand up for my rights as a young girl working at the space center in a very male-dominated time and she taught me to be kind to women and cheer their accomplishments as if they were your own. She was a true feminist with an understanding of life that was equal to her beauty.”
A natural caretaker and animal lover her entire life, she never gave up the dream of owning her own horse, always stamping her hand when she saw a white horse for luck and always having a menagerie of animals, including goats, chickens, dogs and cats. She loved taking scenic drives with her beloved Australian shepherd and found her dream home that way, waiting years for a neglected country home to come on the market that she and David renovated. One of her favorite things to do was to sit on her front porch overlooking the tall pines and wait for cardinals to visit the bird feeder, enjoy happy hour with her family or just watch a summer storm roll through. Her chickens were always nearby to give her a smile or wait for a treat she would throw to them. Her love of the natural world was a gift she passed onto her children and her grandchildren and some of her happiest moments were spent at the family cabin in northern Minnesota.
To say that music had an influence in her life would be an understatement. One of the greatest rare joys for her husband and children was to wake up in the morning to her playing the piano. Thanks to her own parents’ love of music she was supremely skilled in “name that tune,” quick to know a song title when she heard it play. “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans” was a familiar feeling, being drawn every year to a city she and David loved and always ready to take another musical visit to Frenchman street. Her favorite spot in a venue was always in full view of the piano keyboard so she could watch the performer in action. A graceful beauty, she had a natural style and was known for her silver bangles, inherited from her mother which would announce her presence before she spoke a word.
Susan passed at home Oct. 2, 2020. She was dearly and deeply loved and will be forever missed by her children, Samantha (Robert) and David (Kim); stepdaughter, Danielle; and grandchildren, Ben and Morgan; siblings, Johnna Cashill and John Ferguson; among many, many others. A celebration of life will be held next year. Donations may be made in Susan’s name to Second Harvest Food Bank and the Jazz Foundation of America Musicians’ Emergency Fund.