Cover photo for Bettiruth Susholtz's Obituary
1930 Bettiruth 2015

Bettiruth Susholtz

March 28, 1930 — April 25, 2015

Bettiruth (BR) Buck Susholtz, passed away peacefully in her home on April 25, 2015.   She was born on March 28, 1930 in Lufkin, Texas to Mose and Anne Buck, the elder of two children.  BR was a member of the class of 1947 at Lufkin High School from which she went to the University of Texas at Austin and received her degree. She moved to Houston and she was married in 1954 to Adolph Otis Susholtz.They had a glorious marriage with lots of travel, adventures and wonderful times shared with many cherished friends and family.  Bettiruth’s love of art led her to volunteer for many years at the Contemporary Arts Association (now the Contemporary Arts Museum) where she provided leadership in the 1960s.  Volunteerism was an important value of hers, ranging from teaching after school art classes, to organizations such as the Council on Human Relations, Houston Arboretum and Hospice Houston.She was preceded in death by her parents, Anne Weiss Buck and Mose Buck and her husband of 57 years, Adolph.  She is survived by her three children and their families: daughter Devon Susholtz, son-in-law Stephen Purvis, grandson Dylan Purvis of Santa Monica, CA; daughter Lynn Susholtz and partner, Laurie Bane of San Diego, CA; son Rodney Susholtz, daughter-in-law Gail Kirsh Susholtz, grandchildren Alexann and Benton Susholtz of Austin, TX.Bettiruth is also survived by her brother, Larry,  and sister-in-law, Katherine (Kaki) Buck and their children Risa Buck, David Buck and Jonathan Buck.BR loved and trusted her companions, Wilfredo Fuentes and Bernardo Fuentes in all matters and was comforted by the very sight of them until the end.  A very special thank you from the entire Susholtz family to Alvertis Roberts for her decades of dedication and legendary culinary contributions.A Memorial Service will be held at Noon on Sunday, May 3, 2015, in the Freedman Levit Sanctuary at Congregation Beth Yeshurun, 4525 Beechnut Street, Houston, Texas, 77096, with Rabbi David Rosen officiating.In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Primary Care Innovation Center, 3701 Kirby Dr, Suite 600, Houston, TX 77098, www.pcictx.org: or the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, Texas 77024, http://houstonarboretum.org, or to the charity of your choice.Eulogy Delivered in Memory ofBETTIRUTH SUSHOLTZ
By Rabbi David RosenCongregation Beth Yeshurun, Houston, Texas
May 3, 2015 “Ner Adonai nishmat adam,” “The soul of a person is like a candle, the candle of the Lord.”The burning candle—the candle that dissolves the shadows and sheds light—is the symbol of man’s life. It certainly is an apt simile in the case of a woman like Bettiruth Susholtz or, as she was known to many, BR. For with her passing, a warm light has truly been extinguished.Not long ago, I came across a beautiful bookplate which showed a candle burning, and underneath were these words of Carlyle: “I burn that I may be of use.”This motto could well have been that of BR. For she too burned to be of use; she was most alive and happiest when she could serve some cause, help one of her children, when she could do something, teach something, help someone appreciate something that might otherwise have slipped by his or her attention.She was a woman with a voracious appetite for art and education and living life with a zeal and zestiness that made her a beloved figure in our community for some 85 years.BR was born and raised in Lufkin and, from the beginning of her life, she was a high achiever. Her good marks in high school led to her induction into the National Honor Society, and she excelled in college too, at the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a degree in English.She was an accomplished tennis player and excelled in other sports too. Whatever BR set her mind on, she accomplished, and quickly established a reputation as a bright, creative and talented young woman.After graduating from UT, she made her way to Houston, where she soon met the man who would change and enrich her life forever, Adolph Susholtz.Adolph was doing very well working with his father in real estate, but things got even better when he was fixed up with a lovely young lady named Bettiruth. What did BR like about Adolph? Well, he was good looking, charming, motivated, industrious – and he had a beautiful Desoto! That clinched the deal!Soon they were standing under the chuppah and pronounced husband and wife by Rabbi Malev, Rabbi Schachtel and Cantor Wagner, setting in motion a 57-year marriage that was, by all accounts, a great match!Together Adolph and Bettiruth had so many wonderful times. They loved playing tennis together, and traveling together – to Israel and all over Europe, and especially London, which they both loved so much. They enjoyed offbeat theater, not the usual conventional plays, but works by creative writers who conceived works “outside the box.” But they also loved their journeys to Ashland, Oregon, to attend the Shakespeare Festivals there. They enjoyed trips to California and New York and to Detroit, too, which gave them opportunities to cross over into Canada.They were ping-pong doubles champions, and had a ping-pong table right in their house and played together constantly.Yes, if any word can define what was at the heart of Adolph and Bettiruth’s relationship, it was “fun.” They simply loved being together and having fun together – and together they enjoyed life with a relish!In many ways, Adolph and BR were very different in their temperaments and personalities, but their differences complemented each other and filled each other’s gaps. What was left were two people who were like uniquely-shaped pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly in all the right ways to create a powerfully-strong union.They had an intellectual connection which encompassed a shared appreciation of theater, poetry and music, and enabled them to overcome their differences and waltz through life.For Adolph, living with Bettiruth was like living in a wonderland, where there were always interesting things, interesting ideas and interesting people coming in and out of their home.She never stood on formalities when it came to her house. The back door was always unlocked so friends and family could walk in any time, help themselves a cold drink from the fridge. She didn’t care how you dressed or, if you were a house guest, whether you got dressed at all or stayed in your pajamas instead. She was always happy to see you and never in a hurry for you to leave.Over the years, countless numbers of people passed through her house, and found in Bettiruth a powerful force of nature, articulate, a role model who provided inspiration and motivation, a woman who was ahead of her time, unique, different, special, with a delightfully-expressive personality.She challenged everyone who walked him: Look at this painting, she would say. Truly smell the spices and foods drawn on the canvas. She challenged family members and friends alike, for it was in being challenged that you learned about yourself and about which direction you needed to go. Sometimes she could push, almost uncomfortably, because she felt that being pushed was sometimes necessary to get you to really think and challenge yourself as to where you needed to go.She saw things no one else saw — the details in life, the little things most people missed. If something needed doing, if something was out of place, she took note of it, got it, fixed it. It was the details in life that gave everything its unique qualities, but you had to look closely and truly focus in order to see them.She was passionate about art and developed an arts educational program for schools. She was an active member of the Contemporary Arts Association, which became the Contemporary Arts Museum, and while interim director there, she helped develop many educational programs and taught art classes herself.She taught informally every child that came into her house – about smells, coloring, art, food, politics, nutrition, spieces. She shared her love of art and culture and ideas with everyone. She was a dear friend to many artists, who loved coming to her home and just being around her.Many of you undoubtedly were on the receiving end of her personalized postcards, drawn with her unique calligraphy. She was a “waste not, want not” kind of person, who discovered that the back side of cereal boxes could be used for the postcards she frequently created.She had a passion for defining objects and photographs, with a focus on each piece’s sublime details and subtext. She delighted in discerning the unintended pun and noting the absurd. She saw what everyone else seemed to overlook and happily shared everything she saw, experienced and felt.Blessed with an irascible spirit, a discerning eye, and an unwavering affection for anyone who was family member or friend, Bettiruth was one of a kind.She was like the song; she did it her way. You might not have agreed with her or seen everything the way she saw it. But she had the self-confidence to hear disagreement, and a confidence and determination to live her life in a way that brought her fulfillment, regardless what others thought or might have expected.To have such a woman as your friend was a delight and gift. Imagine what it was like having her for your mother.For Devon, Lynn and Rodney, their mother’s passion for education and the arts was a gift she shared with them from the time they were born.She wanted her kids to come home to a house filled with art and culture, and having their mother as a teacher enriched their lives in ways few of us can fully imagine. She told her children, “don’t let school get in the way of your education,” and she made sure that much of their real learning, the kind of learning that would truly shape them and prepare them for life, took place with her guidance and values.All three of her kids and the grandkids as well – Dylan, Alexann and Benton – loved watching her share her passion with them and how she infused everyone’s lives with an excitement about the arts, culture and the world. She would have wanted to have all three of her grandchildren live with her so she could tutor and home school them every day. She had so much she wanted to teach them. Yes, having BR as a mother and grandmother was better than a college education!And when Stephen, Laurie and Gail came into the family, she welcomed them as well into her world, and they loved her too.BR enjoyed a lifelong closeness with her brother Larry and she was always supportive of him. They were very devoted to each other and her passing is a great blow to Larry.But it wasn’t just the arts that excited her. She had a passion for the Houston Rockets and knew everything about the team and its players. As with everything in BR’s life, she let everyone know who she liked on the team and who she really didn’t like. She didn’t keep secrets about how she felt!She loved baseball and other sports, too, but the Rockets had a special place in her heart.For all her exuberance, she was in some ways a very private person. She never liked being in the spotlight and was reluctant to accept honors. She didn’t like talking with others about her health. To those who asked how she was feeling, her response was “none of your business.” She didn’t want to talk about how she felt, but sought instead to redirect the conversation to something more meaningful, more interesting.She was blessed over the years to have some wonderful people in her life above and beyond her family.For more than 50 years, Alverta was her cook, having started as cook for BR’s mother. For half-a-century, Alverta cooked everything and made the house a very heimish place. She inherited all the family recipes and made them deliciously.  She was extraordinarily dear to BR all her life.And then there was Willie, who worked for her for 10 wonderful years. He originally worked for Adolph and BR, but when Adolph died, he and Bettiruth became inseparable. She trusted him implicitly and they developed their own way of communicating with one another. He anticipated everything and knew just what BR would need or want all day long. In the last year of her life, I saw Bettiruth and Willie many days when they came together to the J.B. Greenfield Chapel. They sat quietly in the very back row. Both BR and Willie always greeted me cheerfully, and she would give me her hand to hold as we said our hello’s.Yes, Bettiruth lived her life on a huge canvas, and today we thank God for the privilege we had to know her, to learn from her, to be inspired by her.But now the time has come for us to say a final farewell to this woman who touched us so.An anonymous poet has captured the essence of the woman we have come to honor this day:Let none of you weep for me,Especially you with whom I’ve smiled.Nor bow down your head in utter grief.Put on no mourning, as if the pallInduces forgetfulness and conceal allWe’ve done together. We have lived: Remember!Say not that I have died, that this is death.Say that I lived, enjoying each mortal breath.We have learned and labored and wrought.What our hands found to do we soughtIn quest to raise to nobler height.My life was blessed in the living,My death hallowed because of giving.Life to me was challenge. I was happy so to live!So happy just to live! That captures the kind of woman Bettiruth Susholtz was. The kind of woman who made a true difference in our world.Zikhronah livrahah – may her memory ever be for a blessing.Amen.
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