13 May 2024

In Memorium

I first met Susan Rogers Cooper, in 1990, when Elmer and I had the Grand Opening of our bookstore, Mysteries & More, in Austin, Texas. She had this gorgeous red hair and was wearing a white dress. She was beautiful and as we became friends I learned she was even more beautiful inside. We became BFFs, traveling to mystery cons together and rooming together each time we went.  

Our husbands hit it off and I can't remember how many holidays we spent together, mostly at Thanksgiving oy 4th of July. Usually at their house but a couple times at mine.

She and Don had a teen-age daughter, and by her Senior year, Evin, wanted to do a little part-time work in the store. She and Elmer worked that out, giving him some needed Tuesday afternoons off. 

Flash forward to 1998:

I really wish I had pictures from way back in the 1900s (circa 1998) when Susan & I went to New York City, but we didn't have cell phones back in those ancient times  to photograph everything right then and there. 1998  was the year we were both nominated for a Edgar award. That's the annual mystery writing prize given by The Mystery Writers of America, in case you might might not have heard of such things. Susan was nominated for Home Again, Home Again for Best Paperback Original while I was nominated for Best Critical/Biographical for Deadly Women, along with my Co-editors Dr. Dean James, and the late, Ellen Nehr.

 Naturally, we were astounded to be nominated, BUT in the same year? Fortunately, Susan's book is fiction and mine is non-fiction so we weren't in competition with each other. Neither Susan nor I won, but the nominees are forever etched in MWAs Edgar Awards database. And it did always looked good on our resumes. 

 Although, we admitted not winning was a bit of a let-down at the
Edgar Awards Banquet on Thursday  night, Susan and I had a great time in NYC. On Wednesday, we rode the ferry and saw the Statue Of Liberty. We didn't go up because we were meeting Carole Lee Benjamin, a fellow mystery writer who lives in Greenwich Village. The Village had been known as the epicenter of the 1960s counter-culture and Carole Lee graciously showed us around. 

On Friday, our last day before heading home on Saturday and while walking down one of the Avenues, trying to decide our plans for the day, I spotted the famous Waldorf Astoria. That hotel has been mentioned in so many books and movies, so I said, "let's go look it over." When we arrived I said, "Come on, let's go inside." We looked around, the lobby was quite elegant. I managed to coax Susan into the open bar. It was probably around 10:30 in the morning they were only serving cokes. So we sat, snacking on the these fabulous toasted walnuts and trying to figure out what other placed we might like to see. 

Susan said she'd always wanted to have lunch at Tavern On The Green in Central Park. Since I've never known to be shy, I jumped up, walked out of the bar and spotted the Concierge's desk. The gentleman there was quite busy with a couple of people ahead of me and the phone ringing, but when he asked if he could help, I said my friend Susan and I wanted to go to lunch at Tavern On The Green, and did we need reservations?  He said, "One moment."  He spoke quietly into a phone, then turned back to me, "You have a reservation at 11. I'll have one of the doormen get you a taxi."  He didn't ask if we were guests of the hotel. Guess he just assumed we were.

We had a great lunch then walked thru the little tavern shopping mall where I bought a pair of art deco grape earrings. We eventually walked back out the restaurant's front door.  It had a beautiful green awning portico and the young doorman asked if we'd like a ride through the park. We said yes and a white horse-drawn carriage stopped right in front of us. We climbed aboard and before we could even think twice, our tour guide was pointing out the lake and the Bow Bridge and the Dakota Building where many celebrities lived. It was where Yoko Ono still lived, and also was where John Lennon had been gunned down in 1980. Our tour guide then called our attention to the "IMAGINE," black and white tile mosaic circle made in John's honor and the Strawberry Fields garden.  After we got back to our hotel room, we talked way into the night and laughed about our crazy day. 

For years, on many mystery convention trips we would room together, but that NYC one was most memorable. 

Years later, we even took a cruise to Cancun, which included swimming with dolphins and high-lighted by my friends,  musician/singer/songwriters Mike Blakely and John Arthur Martinez both from Marble Falls. John even gave Susan his autographed straw sombrero. We always had a great time together, and we always laughed so much.

 I still can't imagine this world without, Susan,  my Best Friend Forever. But if there is a heaven, I can't help imagining Susan, along with Don Cooper and Elmer Grape lounging on a big cloud somewhere swearing they've been waiting on me. We'll be talking talking and laughing about leaving "Austin City Blue" and "Houston in the Rear View Mirror."


  1. What lovely memories of your friend. I hope they will be a comfort.

  2. What a beautiful memorial!

  3. Thanks so much, Eve. It was fun walking down memory lane with Susan.

  4. Jan, so sorry to hear about Susan. I took one of her first mystery writing workshops in Austin at the Writer's League back in the early 90's. Until recently, I still owned a copy of her GREEN CHEVY book and re-read it over and over. One of my favorite mottoes came from her, about writing..."Good enough, is good enough." Thanks for this moving memorial post. And BTW, I still remember Elmer climbing up on a ladder and handing down a copy of THE THIN WOMAN by Connell at your bookstore way back when and saying "You're gonna love this one!" Happy trails from San Angelo! bobbi c.

  5. Sorry, my comment posted as Anonymous for some reason. Bobbi A. Chukran.

  6. Thanks, Jan. I never heard the NYC story. I wish I'd been there with you. Touring would have been so much fun. I miss Susan, too. Love you, too, ma'am.


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