Susan P. Jones, 71, of Berlin

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Susan P. JonesBerlin – Susan Patricia Jones, aged 71, passed away on January 27, 2022, at her home in Berlin, MA. She had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, including a plasmacytoma on her spine, in September 2021. After a couple of months of treatment, including a bad reaction to one of the drugs, she decided to take back control of her life and start hospice care. Susi was not one to have others tell her what to do. She was buried, in a natural burial as was her wish, in an unmarked grave at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. A nearby London Planetree (a close relative of the sycamores she loved) bears a plaque in her memory.

Susan was born on December 3, 1950, in Kansas City, MO, to George and Rebecca (Walker) Jones. She grew up in Malvern, PA, and to the end of her life nurtured friendships with neighbors she’d known since she was very young. The second of four children, she was the recluse in a family of gregarious personalities. The Jones home was the center of the neighborhood, with kids from up and down the street frequently there to swim or play ball. Susan preferred to be in her room, alone reading or with a close friend.

Susan studied fine arts at Dickinson College then, after graduation, traveled the US and Germany with her boyfriend. They ended up in Boston (briefly) before she settled on her own in Cambridge, MA, where she made friendships that endured her whole life. She and her German Shepherd Tara lived first with roommates then on her own. Over the years she worked a sequence of jobs, from scooping ice cream to day-care teacher to production supervisor at Inkadinkado rubber stamps to AutoCAD specialist for an architecture firm. She embodied the idea of working to live, often negotiating a less than 40-hour week to leave time for her avocations. She saved money so that she could change her job every few years, taking sabbaticals in between to learn new skills.

In 1990 she responded to her future husband Dan Gauger’s ad in the Boston Phoenix; they soon spent much of their free time together. They lived together in Watertown before moving to a newly built loft in Cambridgeport in 1994. Susan drew up plans for the build-out they wanted in a unique cathedral-ceilinged space, impressing the contractor with her precision. This was the first in a series of unique homes they shared. In 2000 they bought a weekend place—a tiny icosahedron-shaped cabin on a hilltop in Thetford, VT—where they spent every moment that they could. They also married there in 2000. In 2009 they moved from Cambridge to what she registered as “2.81 Acre Farm” in Berlin. They added unique structures for chickens and goats and horses, and renovated the house, again making sure that their living space was not limited to right angles.

Living with Dan afforded her the freedom to pursue her passion for challenging herself with learning new skills. When they met, it was woodworking; she had a table saw in her living room. She also took horseback riding lessons, with a particular interest in dressage. This was a facet of her lifelong passion for training animals by developing a fun, playful relationship with them. In Cambridge she had a dog walking business; she was in such demand that if a prospective client was more than a five-minute walk from the loft she’d likely say “no.” She championed the merits of positive reinforcement and clicker training. Her other self-taught hobbies evolved from pottery to knitting to woodworking to Victorian lampshade-making to birdwatching and basketmaking on their deck in Vermont to obsessively detailed pencil drawings to (in Berlin) keeping and milking goats and making cheese. In Berlin she also kept chickens and had first one, then two, horses. Owning, training and playing with horses had been her dream. She told Dan in her final months that the twelve years they shared with her menagerie in Berlin had let her live that dream.

Susan shed her hobbies like the sycamores she loved shed bark: it stretches as they grow, then peels off in patches, always showing a bit of the old with the new. However, two passions were constants in her life; one was positive animal training and the other was her friends. Susi nurtured bonds with people she’d known in early childhood and others she met as a young adult in Cambridge in the ‘70s; she continued to make new friends throughout her life. In her twenties she set out to master the art of getting to know people, talking to and really listening to them. At the same time, she’d challenge and amuse with her characteristically wry yet playful wit. At parties she easily commanded attention. She didn’t do this just to be entertaining; she really cared about the people she came to know. If a relationship grew rocky she “did the work,” sitting and thinking about what she could do to make things better. This careful attention made her a great friend, as attested by the many people who came to visit her in her final month.

Susan is survived by her husband, Dan Gauger; her brothers, David and Barry “Buck” Jones; her sister, Kathy Laurie; her nephew, Matthew Laurie; her niece, Paula Jones; too many dear friends to list; her horses, Hayden and Olive; and her Shiloh Shepherds, Suki and Sofi. She was preceded in death by her infant sister Sally and her parents.

A celebration of Susi’s life will be held at 2.81 Acre Farm, most likely on Kentucky Derby Day in May, per Walker family tradition. If you’d like to attend, contact Dan at the following email: [email protected]. Donations in her memory should be made to any animal welfare organization or Democratic political candidate of your choosing, to make this country a better place for both four- and two-legged creatures.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Hays Funeral Home, 56 Main Street, Northborough. To leave a condolence or to share a memory, please visit www.HaysFuneralHome.com.

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