Oceans of Love: Remembering Suzanne Crawford | NEXUS Magazine | Alumni | Faculty of Law | UNB

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Faculty of Law

Oceans of Love: Remembering Suzanne Crawford

In the spring of 2023, the UNB Law community said goodbye to Catherine Suzanne Crawford (LLB’82), a beloved wife, daughter, mother, sister, and aunt. Known affectionately as Suzanne, she was a tremendous friend to so many and the model for a life committed to helping others. Heather Crawford, Suzanne's younger sister, graciously shared moments that capture the essence of Suzanne's beautiful life.

Suzanne was born in 1957 in Toronto and raised there. She carried with her a profound connection to the Maritimes that spanned her entire life. Her parents, Beatrice and Purdy Crawford, were from the Five Islands area on the Bay of Fundy. Heather fondly remembers endless family summers in Nova Scotia.

“We used to visit for a few weeks at a time, and then my mother bought the old homestead—a 200-year-old house—from her great uncles. Once that happened, we would spend whole summers there with our cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents.”

As a teenager, Suzanne worked at the Victoria Park Pool in Truro. After high school, she followed in her father’s footsteps, studying liberal arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB. After earning her undergraduate degree, Suzanne once more embraced her father's influence, enrolling in law school. In 1982, she proudly graduated from UNB Law, and practiced corporate law in Halifax. She eventually made the move back to Toronto and worked as in-house counsel in the real-estate and financial sectors. It was while in Toronto that Suzanne met her husband, Dr. Paolo Renzi, courtesy of a serendipitous blind date orchestrated by a mutual friend.

“It’s a funny story,” shared Heather. “Paolo was in Montreal; Suzanne was in Toronto. He drove there to Toronto to meet her on a blind date. This was before the internet and cell phones. He showed up early, and she came to the door with a towel on her head. I guess the rest is history.”

Their connection was undeniable, and their relationship blossomed, prompting Suzanne to relocate to Montreal. It was there that they tied the knot and joyfully welcomed their two children, Robert and Evelyne, into their loving family.

“She devoted herself to her children and just adored them. They were her pride and joy. After they left home, she spoke to them nearly every day. She was a huge support network for them, always.”

Dedication to giving back

Suzanne is remembered for her thoughtfulness and compassionate nature towards others. She had an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of women, children, and those less fortunate.

“She did so much volunteer work, including pro-bono legal work in the not-for-profit sector. It was this work that really defined the last 20 years of my sister’s life.”

Suzanne shared her time, talent, energy, and expertise with non-profits across Canada, including the University Women’s Club of Montreal, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women; the NOVA in Montréal (Victorian Order of Nursing), an organization offering healthcare, personal and social support in homes and communities across Nova Scotia and Ontario; and the Viennese Ball of Montreal, an annual fundraiser supporting youth education, healthcare, and social causes. Suzanne also donated her time and legal expertise to the Mothers Matter Centre, a Vancouver-based national organization serving socially isolated and low economic status mothers and their families. In the latter part of her career, she served as a volunteer director and board members for Shediac-based Uresta, a start-up operated by Canadian female entrepreneurs.

Suzanne was also a strong advocate for the advancement of post-secondary education and generously gave back to Mount Allison as both a member and former Chair of the Board of Regents. She helped shape the institution as a volunteer and donor involved in several significant fundraising campaigns.

A warm and welcoming soul

Heather remembers Suzanne as someone who effortlessly made friends and connected with people in a deep and meaningful manner. Whether it be in the Maritimes, Toronto, or Montreal, people were drawn to her easy, warm, and patient disposition.

“When she was in palliative care, we made a WhatsApp group called ‘we love Sue,’ and it just kept growing. She had so many best friends. She was that kind of person where everyone put their hand up and said she was my best friend; no she was my best friend.”

Suzanne was known for her world class ability to spout off little known facts about anything and everything—history, science, you name it. For this reason, she earned the nickname “Cliff” in honour of the mailman “know-it-all” from Cheers. She was ahead of the curve in her love of science-fiction, a “Trekkie” and Star Wars fan before it was fashionable. Suzanne was very connected with nature and loved flowers. She enjoyed a stroll with her sister through the garden, sharing the Latin names of the various plants that grew. Suzanne had a keen attention to detail that always amazed her sister.

“She would be able to focus on the minute details, but the flip side—and the funny side—is that sometimes she’d lose the big picture. I remember one Christmas; she wanted a particular set of lights—the perfect set. She’d gone everywhere and finally found them. The house looked exquisite. We all arrived on the train from Toronto, and my mother asked about the turkey. Suzanne looked at us and said, ‘oh, I forgot about the turkey.’”

As the eldest among six siblings, Suzanne took on the role of not just an older sister but also a role model, as Heather fondly reminisces.

“She would always go that extra mile to be a good person and to do the right thing, even when it wasn't convenient. That’s the legacy she has left with me. I ask myself, is this what Suzanne would do? Am I treating this person the right way? Am I doing the right thing?” 

Suzanne was known for her beautiful parting words, “oceans of love.” A heartfelt phrase she borrowed from her grandmother and used to sign every letter and card.

“That is her heart, and her heart was always on the Bay of Fundy—seeing that ocean ebb and flow. I always say that she was a rising tide that lifted all boats. That was Suzanne, oceans of love.”

Suzanne is greatly missed by her devoted husband, Paolo Renzi, adored children Robert and Evelyne, revered mother Beatrice, cherished sisters Heather (Larry Ritchie), Mary (Frank Pallotta), Barbara (Ed Babin), Sarah (Paul Takeda) and admired brother David (Julia Holland), loved in-law's (Gildo and Marcelle Renzi) and esteemed brothers-in-law Dani (Nathalie Jutras) and Sylvain (Kary Solis) as well as 20 beloved nephews and nieces. She was predeceased by her father Purdy Crawford.