On September 9, Susie Cook celebrated her 88th birthday by inviting Oakwood Lady Niners to a lovely brunch at her home. Susie is another OLNGA member whose example inspires others.
To begin with, she is a good golfer who is unfazed by age and health challenges. After joining OLNGA in 2006 she had open heart surgery and was unable to play for two years. On returning to the links, she fell and broke her foot. Nevertheless, she continues to play and is frequently one of the winners in Flight 1!
She now plays three times a week, with the Oakwood and Ironwood Niners and with her husband of 67 years, Charles. What’s the secret of her success? I think it must be, at least in part, the mental element – her ability to concentrate on each stroke and her determination to do her best.
Susie has always been determined. When she was a child she was called stubborn (surely just a negative view of youthful determination) and her adult years have been characterized by focus and determination.
Born in Arkansas where her father owned a drug store, Susie suffered third degree burns as a child and underwent repeated surgeries. She learned to deal with hurtful comments made by unkind children and unthinking adults. But her parents taught her not to use her experience as a crutch and she grew determined to “rise above it and make something of herself”.
Her father also set an example of discipline and determination. While working as a pharmacist, he qualified as a veterinarian by reading texts and passing the exam, self-taught. Susie loved working in the store and would have been a pharmacist if that had been a career path for women at the time. Instead, she obtained her B.A. at Arkansas State and her M.A. at the University of Mississippi and became a teacher.
She and Charles taught in Arkansas but moved to California in 1955 when Susie was pregnant with their daughter, Wynette. After several years at home, Susie returned to teaching, obtained a counseling degree from Pepperdine University, and became a school counselor. Susie adored this work and took particular satisfaction from guiding seniors to the colleges best suited to them. She began scholarship and college visitation programs at J.F. Kennedy High School in La Palma and earned students’ respect by being fair, firm and consistent. It is a measure of her success that the graduating class of 1968 still insists she attend their reunions.
Wynette became a doctor of optometry. She and Susie’s two grandchildren remain in California. When Susie and Charles retired they bought an Airstream trailer and enjoyed 18 months traveling on back roads through every state before resettling, first in California and then in Sun Lakes.
Susie has risen above an early traumatic experience. Her focus and determination are evident not just in her success as a golfer, but in her success in her profession and in the happy life she and Charles continue to enjoy.