Cover photo for Susan Marie Phelps's Obituary
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1951 Susan 2020

Susan Marie Phelps

April 24, 1951 — December 21, 2020

My tribute to my loving wife of 31 years Sue Phelps, who I met in Tucson Arizona, in 1988.I very quickly knew she was the one for me but it was a package deal and I wanted to make sure her daughter Sara would be OK with me joining their family. So I proposed to both Sue and Sara and their answer was “yes” and “yes.” Sue and I were married on May 28,1989.

Sue’s love for me, horses and gardening were the three main reasons we headed north to my home state Minnesota where we made our home in Becker. The luminous soil combined with her “green thumb” meant there soon was no shortage of vegetables and beautiful flower beds of every kind on our property, while I fenced in the yard for pasturing the horses. But Sue’s career moved us back to western part of the U.S., first to California and then to her home state in western Washington.

We soon discovered we loved visiting Sandpoint not too far from our home in Deer Park. We always felt welcomed by many in this friendly community. When Sue was first diagnosed with liver disease in 1999 it became apparent that we would need to find a smaller home, hopefully one level and we wanted it to be in Sandpoint the town we had grown to love. Sue and the real estate agent called me one afternoon at work, she was all excited and wanted me to come look at a home they had found. It was in Sandpoint but not exactly what I had in mind. Now Sue grew up “off the grid” without electricity and using outhouses but I was city boy. She said, “Phelps, we got this!”

So, we bought 10 acres with a cabin on a mountain!  Sue has taught me much through the years about what it takes to live “off the gird” and we did it well. (But not without indoor plumbing and generator for electricity.) She had learned much of this as a young girl from her mom, growing up, the need to grow your own food and harvest it was all part of surviving that Sue never abandoned.

One of my favorite stories was when they were picking at harvest time fruit or vegetables, sometimes a little sibling squabble would break out. Her mom’s discipline was they had to sing as they picked, because you can’t squabble when your singing! Sue could not only sing but she played multiple instruments as well, and it was in the family genes. One thing she looked forward to every year was when her siblings and their families would gather to sing and play together, she was blessed just two weeks ago by those who came to her one last time “to pick and sing.” 

Her job as purchasing manager for computer power supplies was a “little” stressful at times for sure. When she got home though it soon forgotten as she heard the neigh of her saddle bread horse welcoming her, or the beauty of her many flower beds though work, a labor of love. Relaxing for her was work, but she was known to wet a line in her honey hole in Grouse Creek for catch of fresh trout now and then, too. She had always had a passion for antiques which easily opened up for her a semi-retirement job. She partner with Tina Reynolds a merchant on the Main Street in Sandpoint peddling her fun finds and her homemade rugs. She loved the opportunity to connect with people who wandered in, listening to their stories and sharing a few of her own.

As Sue’s health declined it was very hard for her to let go of all these passions … closing the shops … selling the horses … downsizing flower beds … it became a team effort to keep them up and I had to learn quickly.

2019 was an amazing year for us. We were so blessed to get the medication needed to keep the liver cancer from advancing and giving us time to visit so many of our family and friends across the United States. We left Idaho in January and didn’t return until May. We were so grateful for all of you who welcomed us into your homes and allowed us time to hang out and visit. Remembering times we shared in the past with each other, while we made new ones Sue treasured them all.

On December 21, Monday morning the love of my life was called home to heaven to be with the Lord. I give thanks to God that it was comfortable and peacefully, and that we were together as we have been for over 31 years! Her strength is incredible for all the years she has fought this battle. I'm so blessed for all the amazing, kind, loving, doctors, nurses, caregivers, family and friends that have held us up through this journey.

Sue is survived by her husband, Steven John Phelps; son, Scott McLaughlin; daughters, Marcie McLaughlin and Sara Phelps; sisters and brothers; and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1900 Pine St., Sandpoint, with Pastor Steve Heinsen officiating.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Marie Phelps, please visit our flower store.

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