Fayette woman remembered for kindness, volunteerism, dedication

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FAYETTE — Suzanne “Sue” Rich was remembered Tuesday for her dedication to the town, her kindness, her volunteering spirit and her baked beans.

Rich, 68, had been in ill health for several years and died Saturday at her home, Elaine Wilcox, a close friend, said.

Rich was the town’s librarian for more than 30 years at the Underwood Memorial Library on Route 17 and volunteered before that. She retired from the post a couple of years ago, and Wilcox took over.

“We worked pretty closely together on election nights,” said Town Manager Mark Robinson, who is also the town clerk.

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She was the warden of the elections, and he was the deputy warden.

“I learned a lot from Sue,” he said.

She was a “dear, sweet lady who cared deeply for the town of Fayette and gave selflessly of her time,” Robinson said. “We’re going to miss her. She was just a great lady. A lot of people love Sue. She was the welcoming person if they were new to the town.”

Rich served as deputy town clerk for eight years and as a selectman from 1998 to 2000. She was also a constable, served on local committees and was known as the town’s historian.

She was a secretary at the Pentagon for five years and she was very proud of it, Wilcox said.

“I’ve known her since I started working at the library,” she said.

Wilcox’s husband and Rich went to school together at Erskine Academy, and that’s how Wilcox initially met her.

The two families became like one family, Wilcox said.

“She was like a sister to me,” she said.

She did genealogy and helped a lot of families trace their lineage and history.

“She was a people person. She always had a kind word to everyone,” she said.

Rich was also known for her “famous” baked beans. People would come from all over to sample them when she made them for benefits or public events.

Rich and Wilcox were charter members of the Fayette Fire Auxiliary. The two were also involved together in the Fayette Home and School Association.

She also helped Wilcox with the Keep Me Warm suppers to benefit heating assistance. Rich made the beans and took the money.

“I called her ‘the bean-maker, money-taker,’” Wilcox said.

Rich was also the founding person of the Fayette Historical Society. She was curator and president for several years.

When the two worked together at the library, Wilcox would read stories to the children as Lady Elaine, and Rich would always come out and sit with the children to hear the stories.

“She loved the kids. She loved when I did story time,” Wilcox said.

She was just always friendly and giving,” she said. “She was very generous. Anything she could help with, she would.” 

Fire Chief Marty Maxwell said Rich and other members of the auxiliary brought sandwiches, hot coffee, cocoa and water to the fires in town. They not only brought enough for Fayette firefighters, he said, they brought enough to feed at least six other departments that responded for mutual aid.

He remembers one early-morning fire where the women brought baked goods that they had planned to sell at a bake sale that morning.

“We all had hot muffins at 5 a.m.,” he said. He also mentioned Rich’s famous beans that she would make to sell to benefit the auxiliary and school events.

There will be a gathering at about 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Fayette Central School, following a funeral service at 2 p.m. at Roberts Funeral Home in Winthrop, Robinson said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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