MADISON—Susan N. Munson, age 89, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at her home. Of the four children between Anthony J. “Tony” Nilles and Edna L. (Rummel) Nilles, who were married in northern Michigan, they gave birth to Susan, their only daughter, on Oct. 26, 1929, in Madison, Wis.
Susan moved several times during her life; from being born, raised and married in Madison, to New Orleans to Manitowoc to Mount Prospect to Arlington Heights, then back to Madison. While the family lived outside of Manitowoc, and with their young boys at her side and Siri shortly behind, Sue always kept her hands busy. She managed a large family garden and canned much of its produce. She sewed for herself and her children, making most of her own clothes and numerous Halloween costumes. Sue gradually got involved in knitting, quilting, caning and upholstering chairs, making dolls and doing calligraphy. As a young mother, she was very involved with her kid’s activities. She helped at her church through teaching, working in summer school and was the superintendent of their grade school. After moving to Mount Prospect, she taught kindergarten at church as well as summer school and was the advisor for the Junior High youth. Sue kept very busy as a Cub Scout den leader for her younger sons’ in Arlington Heights and was a fixture at her children’s school activities, seasonal plays and athletic events throughout their educational years.
After moving back to Madison, Susan single-handedly raised four young kids. She worked diligently to support her family; earlier as an insurance secretary, then on to the UW campus. She was blessed to work with Dr. Bruno Balke and Dr. Francis Nagle in the Department of Kinesiology Bio-Dynamics Laboratory at the UW-Natatorium, until they retired, then she transferred to the UW Dance Dept. at Lathrop Hall where Susan retired after 24 and 1/2 years within the UW system. Through her determination, frugalness and strong work ethics she was able to secure a mortgage to purchase a house and raise her three sons and daughter.
Finding her spiritual home at Covenant Presbyterian Church, she was a disciple there for 47 years. She enjoyed her church roles of Deacon, Elder, Sunday school teacher, being active with mission work, and involving herself with the CARE program for the elderly.
Once the children were out of the house, and after she retired, Susan started to venture out to see the world and be introduced to new cultures. She truly enjoyed and was enriched by her travels abroad to South America, Brazil, Patagonia, Argentina, Chile, Bahamas, Panama Canal, Canada, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Tanzania, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Prague and China. She enjoyed travels within the U.S. and various places like Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, Arizona, California and Colorado to see relatives.
As a young child involved with Girl Scouts, she embraced the mission to help and serve others. That mission was the driving force until her passing. Susan was a true energetic servant to our Lord and demonstrated this mission of serving in many ways: with her culinary skills she baked for those in need, delivered fresh hot meals to those who were bed ridden, dropped off homemade cookies or bars to those under the weather, delivered fresh cut flowers from her sidewalk flower garden and gave rides to activities or doctor’s appointments to her “kids” (friends of hers, most older than she) who couldn’t drive.
From what little time there is in a 24-hour day, she also found time to volunteer in the areas of being an election official for 25 years, Habitat For Humanity, Meals On Wheels, Madison Senior Center, Concerts on the Square, the homeless shelters, Art Fair on the Square, Wisconsin State Historical Museum, Olbrich Gardens, Civic Center/Overture Center, Madison Children’s Theater, Madison Theatre Guild, Kanopy Performing Dance Center, Salvation Army, and Plato … to name a few. Her generosity in supporting many local charities helped fund their needs. She was an avid listener, watcher, volunteer and supporter of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television.
Sue was blessed with great genetics and was an athletically involved lady. She enjoyed trips to the Rose Bowl, took flights to Virginia to visit with her daughter’s family to hike and go sightseeing. Age never defined her love of the outdoors as she jogged, golfed, kayaked, cross country skied, biked, was involved in yoga, stretching and water aerobic classes until her Heavenly Father called her home.
What can we draw from Sue’s journey on earth? Reflecting on the positive (yes, we all have faults!), for those who knew her, she set the bar high with her numerous involvements. Susan involved herself with many, sincerely cared for others, served willingly, humbly reached out, and was generous with her time and financial gifts. These are characteristics she gained from our chosen servant, Jesus Christ. She lived her life sharing those traits with us. What reflections do we shine onto others? That is our reason for being. Our hope is that we can continue the legacy by passing on the blessings of God’s Spirit to others.
Susan is survived by her four children, son, Steve (Melissa) Munson and granddaughters Amanda (Ben) Prodell, Payton and Zoe; son, John Munson; son, Mark Munson; and daughter, Siri (Kary) Ricketts and grandson, James (Jessica) Ricketts and great-grandsons, Jayson and Jameson; and grandson, Jacob Ricketts; brothers, Ralph Nilles, North Carolina, and Paul (Maizie) Nilles, Colorado. Sue was preceded in death by her parents; sister-in-law, Shirley (Ralph Nilles), North Carolina; and brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Agnes Nilles, Colorado.
A memorial service will be held at COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 326 S. Segoe Road, Madison, on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be take place at the church prior the service from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Following the service, a hot buffet reception with refreshments will be served at Covenant.
In lieu of flowers or financial gifts, please direct your generosity to the many missions at Covenant Presbyterian Church or one of the local involvements/charities she loved volunteering with or giving to.
Please share your memories at www.cressfuneralservice.com.