Susanne Cihunka Van Leuzen passed away Thursday, August 16, 2007, at UTMB Hospital.
Born April 30, 1919, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Charles and Helen Cihunka, Susanne grew up in Minneapolis. She was a fiercely independent young woman who, through hard work and determination, as well as many late nights of studying by kerosene lamp, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters Degree in Dietetics. During World War II, she worked in an ammunitions plant performing diagnostic tests on various alloys to gauge the strength of ammunitions. Her fondest wartime memory was dancing until the early morning hours at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois, and then going off to work at the hospital. Susanne held Dietetic positions at private hospitals in Rantoul, Illinois and Staten Island, New York before joining the U.S. Public Health Service.
Upon her transfer to Galveston, Susanne was Chief Dietician of the USPHS in Galveston for 32 years. She garnered many awards and promotions during her tenure and achieved the highest military rank for women at the time – Colonel – as women were not allowed to attain the rank of Brigadier General. Susanne moved to Port Bolivar after her retirement from the USPHS, and she and her husband resided there for 25 years. While she was a resident of Port Bolivar, Susanne was a member of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, where she was actively involved in the altar society, sang in the choir, and held a position on the church council.
Susanne was a staunch supporter of many organizations. She supported the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, the cloister her sister Irene was associated with. Other favorite organizations were The Jesuits, Boystown, American Cancer Society, The National Humane Society, and many others. Susanne was a compassionate soul who always strived to be fair and upright in all her dealings. To her, all people were equal, and she always had a soft spot in her heart for those less fortunate than she was. She looked beyond race and religion and always had a kind word for all.
Susanne was an avid gardener and spent countless hours feeding and watching her pets and the neighborhood pigeons and squirrels. She was also a member of the Galveston Garden Club and took great pleasure in the time she spent in her garden. In addition to her gardening talents, Susanne was also an accomplished cook. All meals were prepared with great care, and she was well-known for her diversified recipes and beautifully displayed meals. She also loved to travel, and did so extensively during her life, reaching such faraway places as Europe, Russia, Egypt, The Serengeti, China, and Indonesia.
Susanne was a very stoic, elegant woman who carried herself in a most graceful manner. She had a beautiful voice which she shared with countless others as a member of several church choirs. She had a strong dedication to both her family and her church. In her later years, Susanne was a member of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Galveston. Her spirituality was at the very center of her life.
Susanne was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Marinus “Van” Van Leuzen; and sisters, Mary, Irene, and Anne.
She is survived by her daughter, Susan Van Leuzen Rismiller, and husband, Edwin, of Galveston; granddaughters, Suzanne, Sara, and Marina Rismiller; sisters, Kay Strickland and Helen Cihunka; nephew, Arjan Van Leuzen and wife, Margaret; and numerous other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held on at 1:00 pm on Sunday, August 19th, at Malloy & Son Funeral Home with Father Bill Bartniski officiating.
In lieu of flowers, Susanne’s family requests memorials be made to the Galveston Island Humane Society, 6814 Broadway, Galveston, TX 77554.