Susan, an extraordinarily gracious woman and a friend to all who were blessed to know her, passed through the veil on Thursday, Oct. 7, in St. George, Utah.
Susan was born in Orem, Utah, on May 19, 1946, the first child of Beverly Jean Rieske and Richard Kent Watts. Her father was a student at Brigham Young University and her mother was a homemaker and a seamstress.
The young family remained in Provo and then Orem for nearly a decade while Susan’s father taught high school English, and three siblings joined the family: Nicholas Kent, Wendy Lee, and Lisa. Susan and Nick were particularly close in age and enjoyed a kinship that continued throughout their lives.
In 1955, the family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where Susan’s father started a new career as a building contractor. He found a choice piece of land for the family house in Los Altos, and then labored for years to build it essentially by himself with the help of his wife and children as they were able. Here, also, another sister was born into the family: Lori Jean.
The old secondhand upright piano that the family brought with them to California piqued Susan’s interest. She began teaching herself how to play. By the time she was fourteen years old, she was serving as the organist for the Sunnyvale, California, congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the youngest organist in the congregation’s history. In high school, she tackled the challenge of learning to play the bassoon and became accomplished enough to be featured in the school orchestra.
Her love of music continued throughout her life, blessing her friends and family and almost every congregation in which she lived. She taught piano lessons to nieces and nephews and sang in chorales in California and in the Jay Welch Chorale in Utah. While serving as organist in the Palo Alto, California, congregation of the church, she received a letter from Elder David B. Haight, a former mayor and a member of the highest leadership in the Church, thanking her for the sacred manner in which she played.
Susan graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, in 1965. She then attended Brigham Young University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She began work as a teacher in Salem, Utah. Then her skills in organizing and administration led her to transition to business and legal secretarial work; and she was a valued employee for each of her employers.
In 1985, Susan received a surprise visitor at her door: a young man she had dated briefly at BYU, Tony Reed Martin from Evanston, Wyoming. Now more mature, they both found their relationship much more satisfying. They married in the Oakland, California, Temple on February 22, 1986.
Tony’s work resulted in the couple moving several times across California, Nevada, and Utah. Susan applied her organizing and administrative skills to support Tony in the creation and successful operation of a family business: Susan Martin Construction, LLC. She was an officer in the company and saw to its administrative and payroll functions.
Susan never gave birth to children of her own. Nonetheless, she was essentially a mother to many, particularly her nieces and nephews, her stepson, and her step-grandchildren. She had the gift of empathy, a knack for bringing cheer to children, and a willingness to work behind the scenes to help children realize their potential.
Susan was a faithful member of the church throughout her life, serving in multiple positions including president of the Relief Society (the women’s organization). She and Tony served together as ordinance workers in the Las Vegas and Saint George, Utah; temples. In her personal time, Susan created heirloom quality scrapbooks for family members, organized family documents, and served as the heart and soul of the family. When her widowed mother Beverly needed help with daily living, Tony and Susan moved in to provide care for several years.
Susan leaves behind a lasting legacy of love including her husband, Tony Reed Martin; stepson, Garrett Reed Martin of Las Vegas; step-grandchildren: Shaidyn, Tyson and Lexie of Las Vegas; siblings: Nicholas Kent Watts of Saint George, Utah; Wendy Lee Watts Hill of Ripon, California; Lisa Watts Salmon of Waikoloa, Hawaii; and Lori Jean Watts Pedersen of Vacaville, California; and 16 nieces and nephews and their children across the United States.
Services remembering Susan will be held in two locations:
In St. George, Utah, on Wednesday, Oct. 20, a viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m. in the Metcalf Mortuary, located at 288 W. St. George Blvd.
Another service will be held in Evanston on Friday, Oct. 22, at the meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 721 W. Cheyenne Drive, and a viewing will be held there from 10-11 a.m., at which time the funeral will begin.
For those who cannot attend in person, the funeral can be viewed through a Zoom link at https://zoom.us/j/ 99888015836.
Following the funeral, the interment will begin at about 12:30 p.m. in the Evanston City Cemetery, located at 526 County Rd.
Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Condolences can be made at www.metcalfmortuary.com.