Susan Dornbos

September 18, 1951 - May 9, 2016
Vicksburg, MI



Friday, May 13, 2016
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Lakeland Reformed Church
10442 Sprinkle Road
Vicksburg, MI 49097
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Saturday, May 14, 2016
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Lakeland Reformed Church
10442 Sprinkle Road
Vicksburg, MI 49097

In lieu of cut flowers, if you intend to send flowers please send potted plants.

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Life Story / Obituary


Susan Rae Dornbos

September 18th, 1951- May 9th, 2016

Susan Rae (Waterman) Dornbos was born September 18th, 1951 in Ludington, Michigan to Bennie Ray and Ruth Alice (Jensen) Waterman. Her older sister Christine was a wonderful playmate on their large family farm. Her father Bennie was a kind and gentle farmer, who also had a paper route, and her mom Ruth worked as a grocery store cashier. Her maternal grandparents, John and Christine (Rasmussen) Jensen, were Danish immigrants and she has many happy early childhood memories at their home. Growing up in the countryside gave Sue an enduring appreciation for horses (her favorites were Dolly, Peaches and Dan), hard work, picking cherries in orchards, tending gardens, and caring for pets. She also learned early on to enjoy beautiful sunsets at the beach. She loved being outside, caring for animals, people, and the farm with her dad. She used to lay in the fields at their farm and look at the sky and know how lucky and happy she was, surrounded by things she liked…an attitude that would follow her throughout her lifetime.

As a young girl she was called “Susie”, but preferred “Sue” as a teenager and adult. She watched her neighbor Millie, a nurse’s aid, help her grandfather John with his broken hip. That, in addition to reading the book “Nurse Nancy” (which included a real Band-Aid for practice), inspired her to become a nurse and from then on it was what she wanted to do.

Her family attended Bethany Lutheran (a Danish church) in 4th Ward and faith was always important to her. Anyone who knew her could attest that she grew to embody the fruits of the spirit throughout her life: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control…” Galatians 5:22

Sue loved playing softball from 4th-12th grade and her love for sports is something she would eventually pass along to her daughters. She was also active in 4-H and the sewing club at school. After graduating from Ludington High School in 1969, she attended nursing school at Mercy Central School of Nursing in Grand Rapids, MI and earned her Registered Nurse degree. Her starting wage was $3.32 an hour and was hired at Borgess Hospital Pediatric unit where she worked for 2 1/2 years in the burn unit. She then moved on to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI (working on their Young Adult/Peds unit) while putting her husband through dental school for the next four years. Vicksburg became her home on October 31st, 1977.

In 1978 she moved into her Main Street house and transformed it into a wonderful, welcoming home, her “only home” where she shared many meals, dips in the pool and jumps on the trampoline with neighbors and friends. She enjoyed decorating and making it a welcoming space for every holiday. Sue and Bob’s family began with the arrival of Sarah in 1977, continued with Elizabeth in 1980 and Kate in 1981. Sue poured herself into her daughters. She made team meals, attended every athletic event, and she “loved every minute of it.” Motherhood gave her great joy.

Sue developed deep and long-lasting friendships in quilt group, cross stitch, painting group, as well as in her Bible Study and small groups at Lakeland Reformed Church. Sue somehow knew just what to cook for your birthday, how to make the best Halloween costumes for your kids, fix your zipper, alter your dress, hem your pants, wallpaper your house, stencil your cupboards, install laminate flooring with you, dress up as an old lady with hideous dentures to be silly with you, and make breakfast and lunch to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti. Her kindness was legendary. She loved lavishly. There was no such thing as a “stranger” to Sue Dornbos, she loved people, was a mother to many, and enjoyed friendships that spanned several decades. Her high school friend Jane Peterson remained a lifelong friend and one of her closest companions.

When her girls were a bit older and more independent she returned to nursing on May 9th of 1991, first part time and then full time, eventually becoming nursing supervisor at Family Doctors of Vicksburg, P.C. Though Sue talked of retirement, she worked right up until the time of her final hospitalization. She was a wonderful mentor, patiently guiding and instructing new nurses, and passionately overseeing the vaccination program. She took great pride in her work, always wanted to “do her best” and loved both the staff and patients at the office.

Sue also loved her community: she was involved in business park development, athletic boosters, the PTA, Kids Hope, Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation and was a founding member of Generous Hands. She received a Volunteer Recognition Award from the Voluntary Action Center of Greater Kalamazoo for her work for South County Community Services in 1994. She was a kind and selfless person, always thinking of others, contributing to worthy causes, and baking muffins or treats to give away.

In recent years Sue enjoyed visiting her daughters in their various homes (Utah, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, California, Hawaii). She loved the beach and always ran on “island time”…a few minutes late.

Many of us probably heard some key phrases from Sue that embodied her amazing attitude and characteristic good nature: being able to let most things go by saying, “It is what it is”, not being inconvenienced by anything stating it was, “Not a problem”, and her optimistic “Everything is perfect” attitude served her well in this lifetime.

Vicksburg was so close to her heart, she would not give up her final breath until she knew she was home. She was a joyful person, kind to the very end, full of love, ever patient, faithful to her friends, courageous in the face of suffering, at peace with God, confident in His love for her. God was her refuge and strength.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on December 24th, 2012. And in keeping with her positive outlook on life she coined the term “Celebrate Today” as a motto that would carry her (and all those around her) through that journey. Even on that evening she managed to enjoy a pink Moscato with her dear friend Paula Schriemer. She fought like a warrior, with zero complaints, for three and a half years. Even in the midst of her failing body, her characteristic good nature could not be overcome. After a heroic and brave battle with cancer she left her earthly home in Vicksburg, Michigan for her heavenly home, with her daughters at her side on May 9th, 2016 (exactly 25 years to the day that she started working at Family Doctors of Vicksburg).

Sue will be deeply missed by all who knew her, but especially her children, Sarah Dornbos, Elizabeth (Matthew) Parke, Kate (Robin) Dornbos, granddaughter Eliza Geer and sister Chris (Norm) Sanford and her loving dog Wynston. She was preceded in death by her parents, Bennie Ray Waterman and Ruth Alice Jensen. We feel this closing prayer is one Sue embodied and would pray as a blessing over all those she loved:

“Life is short, and we do not have too much time

to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us;

so be swift to love

and make haste to be kind,

and may the Divine Mystery who is beyond our ability to understand,

but Who made us, and Who loves us, and Who travels the way with us,

bless you and keep you in peace, this day and always.” -Henri Amiel, 1860