WILMINGTON — Sue Wood’s life journey ended peacefully Sunday, March 19 in her Wilmington, NC home, a home conceived, planned, and designed by her in 1987.
Sue Burke’s life journey began in 1947 on a farm in Smyth County, Virgina nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains. Life on a small farm instilled in her the value of hard work but more important an appreciation for family and friends combined with a spirit of generosity and kindness that became legendary.
She graduated from Radford University in 1968 with a degree in Elementary Education and began her 33-year teaching career at Banneker Elementary School in Middleburg, Virginia. It was here she met her husband Don Wood, and they were married December 18, 1971, in Marion, Virginia.
In 1973 they moved to Wilmington, and she began teaching at D.C. Virgo Middle School. Her dedication and work ethic were appreciated by her peers, and they nominated her for New Hanover County Teacher of the Year on many occasions. At Virgo students came from all stations in life and Sue had a gift for challenging each one and bringing out their very best. She remembers teaching a young Michael Jordan social studies and chronicling his middle school basketball career for the Virgo yearbook. She loved her students, and they loved her. She received a Master of Education degree from UNCW and over the years she was a mentor to many young teachers.
Sue retired from teaching in 2002 and began a second career as a volunteer at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. She served on their board of directors but her “hands on” behind the scenes work was recognized in the Wilmington Star-News by a Si Cantwell article profiling her work there. Helping people was her greatest pleasure in life.
Sue and Don joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wilmington in 1982. Any job at UU that needed a volunteer she was always the first to raise a hand. Her efforts raised tens of thousands of dollars spearheading UU auctions and she worked tirelessly in religious education. Her UU Christmas celebrations were legendary, focused on sharing the joy, hope and peace of the season with her friends. Every UU admired and appreciated her many contributions.
There will be a Memorial Service to celebrate her life on Saturday, May 20 at 2:00 pm in the UU Sanctuary at 4313 Lake Ave, Wilmington, 28403. This service will also be available via Zoom for those unable to attend in person.
Sue touched and inspired many lives through her work, friendships, and family. She was indeed a very special person.
She is survived by her beloved husband of 51 years Don; daughter Megan Stewart and husband Danny of Wilmington; brother, Dr. Stanley Burke and wife Janice of Blacksburg, VA; brother-in law, Dr. Hal Talley of Shelby, NC; numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Earl and Thelma Burke, a brother John Burke, and sisters Judy Williams, Sara Talley, and Pamela Baumgardner.