Black—Susanna Maendel Black, 79, at home in Cookeville, Tenn., on August 31, 2015, surrounded by her family. Born in a Hutterite colony near Winnipeg, Canada, on January 1, 1936, Susie was the third of 17 children born to Mary and Joseph Maendel. While she didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, she was a lifelong learner. Described by her sisters as a hard worker, she would hold the broom in one hand and a book in the other, diligent about completing her chores but determined to keep reading. In her 20s, she joined Quaker workcamps, along with other Hutterites. She met Hector Black, and they married in 1957 and raised four children, with many adults and other children joining the family for varying lengths of time over the years.
Hector and Susie spent the early years of their marriage living in Hutterite and Bruderhof communities, but left and joined the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, Ga., in 1963. They attended Atlanta Meeting, which, along with Quaker House, supported their inner city civil rights work. Susie was one of four founding members of Cookeville (Tenn.) Worship Group and was a grounding presence among these Friends all the rest of her life. She joined Nashville (Tenn.) Meeting and transferred her membership to Cookeville when these Friends became a full meeting.
She developed rheumatoid arthritis at age 24; began using crutches and a wheelchair at age 28; and underwent multiple surgeries, months of hospitalizations, and years of physical therapy. But she did not let the disease or the pain define her. She kept busy processing the vegetables and fruit that Hector grew; sewing, cooking, cleaning, organizing, and traveling; presiding over meals, holidays, and parties; attending community events; and serving Cookeville Meeting. She took a typing course and was the secretary at Hidden Springs Nursery for over 30 years.
She cared for hundreds of others as if they were family, opening her heart and home to them. She loved deeply and unconditionally. Through all her pain and suffering, she affirmed life in all its glory, its beauty, and its anguish. Although Friends miss her wonderful spirit and beautiful smile, they are comforted by the fact that she is no longer in pain.
Susie is survived by her husband, Hector Black; three children, Annie Black, Rose Black, and Aggie T. Black; four grandchildren; six sisters; and four brothers.