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Susan Slaughter Sachs

Obituary for Susan Slaughter Sachs

August 6, 1945 - March 16, 2021
Lakewood, Ohio | Age 75

Loving Wife, Mother and Grandmother


Susan Slaughter Sachs
August 6, 1945 – March 16, 2021

Susan Slaughter was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Before she was two her family moved to Piqua, Ohio. Susan was the second of 12 children born to Elmer Slaughter and Jeannette "Mickey" (Kearney) Slaughter. She is survived by Harvey, her husband of 53 years; their son, Gregory (Melanie); three beloved granddaughters Emerson, Ardyn, and Imogen; as well as her adored poodle, Pippa.

Susan is also survived by six sisters: Dotty Ashmead (Max), Mary McGraw (William), Casey Rea (Gary), Rebecca Belknap (Steve), Nancy Salyer (Keith), and Janet Eissenstat (Everett); and three brothers: John (Phyllis), Richard (Louise), and Michael (Safia) Slaughter. Harvey's siblings, Martin Sachs (Anne Merkel) and Jeanette Oppenheimer also greatly miss her. Susan was the aunt of 30 and great-aunt of 28. She was preceded in death by her parents and two siblings, Anna Jean Johnson (Marvin) and Edward Slaughter.

Susan graduated from Piqua Catholic High School in 1963. She followed her older sister Jean to Rice University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering. She continued blazing a trail for other women while earning a Master's Degree in Computer Engineering at Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. in Systems and Control Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

While still an undergraduate, she married Harvey Sachs in June of 1967. They had one child, Gregory, who followed her lead as a Systems and Control Engineer, educated in the same department as Susan at CWRU. The Slaughter siblings remain very close, with reunions in the pre-covid-19 even years and week-long back-packing in the West in most odd years. Susan loved travel, reaching 49 states and four continents – almost always with her husband. Susan and Harvey were avid bicyclists, including a bike camping trip from Cleveland to Atlanta while she was pregnant with Greg. She was a passionate and skillful gardener, and showed her granddaughters the joy of homegrown sugar snap peas. Susan trained and loved her dogs. She and Harvey also restored and rejuvenated an 1850 house, and extensively remodeled several others. Susan was passionate about America and politics, and a great advocate for her causes, including women's and civil rights. Her causes were chosen to advance justice and equity, with a focus on the long term. She was particularly dedicated to encouraging girls and young women to join and thrive in STEM careers.

Susan's professional career was at AT&T Bell Laboratories and its Engineering Research Center in New Jersey. Her projects included applying queueing theory, glass fiber connector design (with a patent), robotics, and factory processes. Her favorite project may have been leading the team that built working prototypes of the first 9600 baud PC-card modem – in six weeks. Susan was both a meticulous engineer and a thoughtful leader.

After retiring from Bell Labs, she tutored mathematics students, and helped coach the team that won the New Jersey MathCounts competition two years in a row – from a public school with only about 50 total 7th and 8th graders to draw from, competing against much larger schools.

Susan and Harvey retired to Lakewood, Ohio in 2018 to live near their son's family. Susan touched lives everywhere she lived: Piqua, OH; Ardmore, OK; Houston, TX; Providence, RI; Corvallis, OR; Princeton and Cranbury, NJ; McLean, VA; and Cleveland, OH.

A perceptive friend captured Susan's spirit: "I have so many memories of Susan circulating in my head. She was a vibrant and engaging woman who carried the spark of curiosity and joy in her. I especially loved the stories she shared about raising your hound (in the late 90s or early 2000s, I think). I still carry with me the images she…as she told about moving around your McLean house with the dog tethered to her during puppy training…I used to look forward to seeing her at…parties and at [conferences] because she always had some interesting observation to share, some nugget of information to impart. And there was always a smile on her face, very welcoming in a sea of strong personalities… She was a fierce guardian of fairness and doing right in the world and we are all better off because of her engagement."

Susan's diagnosis with gallbladder cancer was more than three years ago. She had many great months with her family and friends. All the diagnostic tools, treatments, and procedures available were applied by the outstanding teams at the Cleveland Clinic. We salute their competence and passion to help her, and we are grateful to them.

Susan has departed. She will be remembered, and she still lives on in the acts of goodness she performed and in the hearts of those who cherish her memory. May the beauty of her life abide among us.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts be made to national environmental organizations, women's advocacy groups, or causes close to your heart.

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