Suzanne Leigh Underwood was born in Kansas City, Mo., on December 4, 1966, to Eleanor and Larry Underwood. She grew up with her brother, Preston, and their parents in Salina and Derby, Kan., graduating from Derby High School. She finished her Bachelor Degree Magna Cum Laude from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., and later earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She worked in Conway, Ark.; Edmund, Okla.; and Greenwood, Ark.; and lived in Fort Smith, Ark.

She is remembered here by her friend, Jennifer Canada: “Suzanna left this world on July 14, 2020, just as she lived in it, on her own terms. Suz had an uncanny intuition and a self-deprecating wit. She could be sweet, and maddening by turns, like a Sour Patch Kid. On trips, she would get up at 4 a.m. and read the newspaper right next to your bed. She loved gardens, outdoor music, kittens, singing in the church choir, cheering loudly for the Razorbacks, and her friends.

She could repair almost anything. Once, she even fixed her own central heat and air unit!

She didn’t like driving at night, and she drove so slowly, I would often thing of going to search for her. But, just as I was ready to make a move, she would appear, smiling secretly to herself.

She was brave and adventurous in some indescribable way and her faith was stronger than anyone I have ever known. She never complained to me, never asked, ‘Why me?’, when I asked daily, ‘God, why Suz?’

She was kind. Her last struggling, spoken words to me were words of thanks and love. She would quietly leave some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever made on your doorstep. I’m going to miss my friend. I loved her and I wanted so much more life for her. I wanted to know her more, and I’m really going to miss those cookies.”

Suzanna is survived by her parents Larry and Eleanor; brother Preston and his wife Beth; her nephews Nolan and Clint; Clint’s wife Lauren and their son Emmett. She is also dearly missed by many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 8 in the Grand Avenue Baptist Church Gym at 3900 Grand Avenue in Fort Smith, Ark.

She shared her contagious enthusiasm for service in many ways. One of her favorite adventures was as VBS coordinator with American Indian Bible Ministries, Gallup, N.M.

Suzanne also celebrated the work of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. Her dream trip was to visit and volunteer with this “Ranch of Rescued Dreams.” Children facing enormous challenges because of neglect and abuse can be paired with horses who have been rescued from the same. An adult mentor facilitates purposeful activities that teach the child something about faith, trust, hope and kindness. Suz would have been perfect for this job.

If you are interested in making a contribution honoring the life of Suzanne Leigh Underwood, please consider Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, 19344 Innes Market Rd, Bend, OR 97703, crystalpeaksyouthranch.org.

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