Susan A. MacLean

HOUSTON, Texas — Susan A. MacLean, age 63, of Houston, Texas, and formerly of Athol, passed away on July 27, 2017, at the home of her sister and partner where she had resided since 1999. Susie was not born in Texas but she got there as soon as she could! She was born in Athol on Dec. 13, 1953, the daughter of J. Arthur and Jennie M. (Allen) MacLean.

Born with Down’s syndrome and some serious medical problems that required immediate attention, Susie was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital right after birth. She underwent several life-saving operations. Known even then for extraordinary care, the good people at BCH brought Susie through these difficulties. However, such trauma as a newborn left her with a life expectancy of only about 18 years. Susie’s spirit, the care of her parents and the love of her family and friends in Houston enabled her to surpass that grim prognosis by almost four-fold.

Susie attended school in Athol under the care of her beloved teacher Mrs. Michaeleen Barcomb of Athol until old enough to attend GAAMHA where she worked for many years.

Susie was born when the conventional wisdom regarding the care of persons with Down’s syndrome was often (and sadly) committal to institutional care. But our parents would not hear of it. Susie lived at home with Mom and Dad until Dad passed in 1969 and then remained in Mom’s care until Mom’s own health started to fail. Sister Sharon and her partner Mary immediately stepped in to put Mom’s mind at rest and assumed the guardianship of Susan, bringing her to live with them in Houston.

Susie attained “rock star” status in Houston among Sharon and Mary’s many friends, caring neighbors and Mary’s family. Her disarming smile and trusting love endeared her to everyone who met her. In home hospice at the end, nearly 20 people were present at her bedside. Would that we all strive to live a life worthy of such admiration; it just came natural to Susan…

Susan taught everyone she met life lessons: courage, joy, wonder, awe and, most importantly, unconditional love.

Susie is survived by her sisters, Sondra French of New Salem, Sheila Bachant of Holden, and Sharon MacLean and Mary Steck of Houston, Texas; her brother, Stephen and his wife Kimberley MacLean of Athol; and their aunt, Lillian Suomala of Athol; as well as cousins, nephews and nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces, spread far and wide and all too many to name here.

Visitation is at Fiske, Murphy & Mack Funeral Home in Orange on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

A Celebrate Our Angel Home service follows at 11:30 a.m. A private graveside rite will follow.

To leave an online condolence, please visit

Fiske-Murphy & Mack Funeral Home, 110 New Athol Rd., Orange, is assisting with arrangements.


I remember when Susie was born.  I was about 8 years old.  It was very special at my young age to be able to see a 'real' little baby. The MacLean family has been special to me.  Sheila understood what it was like to be the "middle child".  Later in life I was able to go horseback riding at the Little Ponderosa.  What lovable memories.  Take care of yourselves.  Karen

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Athol Daily News

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225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
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