If you say any of these things, everyone in the room knows exactly what you’re referring to. But how many people would know what you meant if you said 2,996? It’s not as common a number as 9/11, but it’s just as important. That number represents the number of people who were killed that September day in 2001. Each number equals one life tragically torn from this earth. Each number is a person, someone with a name, a face, a family, a life…a story. I am here to tell you one story of the 2,996. It’s the story of Susan Sauer.
Susan Sauer was born in November 1952. Her mother, Margaret, and her father, a war veteran and firefighter, had two other children, Joe and Barb. They grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, and Sue graduated from Wheaton Central High School in 1970, right between brothers Jim and John Belushi. Unlike the Belushi brothers, Sue was not headed for Hollywood. She was, however, destined to create her own legacy.
Graduating from Illinois State University was just the first step Susan took in climbing to the top. She went on to become a managing director at Marsh, Inc., an insurance brokerage unit of Marsh & McLennan. But Sue didn’t just achieve success, she lived it every day. She took an active role as a mentor for young women in the male-dominated insurance world. One former colleague remembered Sue’s vitality and professionalism. “Her passion for excellence, her attention to detail, and her untiring work ethic left most of us simply in awe.” In 1996, the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of New York recognized Sue as one of the top women achievers in business. She made an impact on those around her, one that will last for years to come and will serve as inspiration for countless people.
Sue loved spending time with her family. She was a doting aunt of five nephews. She began golfing because one of those nephews was an avid golfer. When that same nephew asked his Aunt Sue to take him to a golf tournament in Florida, she couldn’t turn him down. And she thought since they were already traveling, why not just stop by the Grand Cayman Islands while they were out? It’s an honor when your family members consider you a friend as well as family, and Sue was granted this honor deservedly.
Susan loved cooking, and she attended the Culinary Institute in Napa Valley. She was planning to attend cooking school in Italy in the fall of 2001, to combine two of her favorite things – cooking and traveling. Susan had set a goal for herself to visit fifty countries before her 50th birthday. She only had two left, and planned to visit Hungary and Wales briefly during her trip to Italy. That would’ve put her at her goal, and there’s no doubt she would’ve added more to the list before she turned fifty.
But Sue never made it to fifty. She was 48 years old on September 11, 2001. She was on a business trip for Marsh, Inc. from the Chicago office, and they were meeting in the World Trade Center. No one expected what happened that day. We were all blindsided by the hatred that consumed the terrorists who planned and carried out the horrific events of 9/11. But we can take lessons from Susan Sauer and the way she chose to live her life. Live each day to the fullest, always take chances, never be satisfied staying in one place, whether physically, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. Don’t allow yourself to languish or become complacent. Always continue learning regardless of whether it’s for career purposes or for fun. Take time out to enjoy life, it’s the only one we have. And above all, never leave any doubt in the minds of those you love that you truly love them with all your heart. Don’t just tell them, but also show them, and do it every day. Susan’s family and friends know they were loved by an exceptional person. We should all do our best to follow her example.
Susan's Guestbook at September 11 Victims
Susan's Profile and Guestbook at Legacy
Susan M. Sauer Wheaton Community Scholarship Foundation
Susan's Profile at Wall of Americans
Susan's Tribute and Guestbook from Marsh & McLennan Companies
To read more stories of the 2,996 heroes of 9/11, please go to 2,996.
I have refrained from posting anything political in this tribute. This is about Susan Sauer, her life, and her legacy, not about personal political beliefs. This is to honor Susan, and out of respect for her and her family, I ask that you not post anything political in your comments. Anything promotional (aside from links to other 2,996 blogs or additional information about Susan) or political will be deleted, regardless of other content. Thank you for your understanding and your respect.