Susan Lois Houns Murphy

Susan Lois Houns Murphy, 69, passed away on April 18, 2020 in her home in Overland Park, Kan., with her loving husband, Gerard (Jerry), and devoted son, Matthew by her side. She had fought pancreatic cancer for five years with unwavering grace and bravery.

Susan was born on August 29, 1950 in Tomahawk to her delighted parents, William (Bill) and Lois Houns. At the age of five, her baby sister, Jane, joined the family. They developed a lifelong bond as best friends.

The family moved to Eau Claire in 1967. After graduating from Memorial High School, Susan attended the local campus of University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, transferring after a year to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, during the turbulent early 1970s, she studied the social sciences.

In 1975, Susan decided to follow her spirited heart and join her Madison friends in the San Francisco Bay area. She worked for a hospital in the city and later the College of Marin.

Shortly after moving to California, she met her first husband, Michael Wolfe. In1981 they welcomed their son, Matthew Jared Wolfe. Matthew was, in her words, her “gift.”

In 1994, Susan met the love of her life, Jerry Murphy, in Marin County, Calif. Jerry has always said that he fell for Susan on their very first date — breakfast and a stroll, and only wished he met her earlier in his life. Susan and Jerry married in a sunset wedding in1999.Though Susan’s two beloved cats did not mesh well with Jerry’s bully of a cat, the couple still settled into a pleasant life together.

Eventually, Susan joined Jerry as an associate in his market research firm, GMA Studies. Jerry often said that Susan was the best editor and writer that he had ever worked with. In 2004, Susan and Jerry decided to move their life closer to family in the Midwest and settled in Overland Park, Kan. In 2013, they sold the business and happily retired. While living in Overland Park, Susan became certified as a Master Gardner by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Jerry benefited from the tasty squash and herbs that emerged from Susan’s garden.

Susan will be remembered for her quiet charm and the creativity that infused her garden, her cooking and her conversations. She made the most exotic meal look effortless and was a delightful hostess. A supremely kind, open-minded person and a great listener, she was also often the person that loved ones turned to for advice.

Susan also had an adventurous side, which came out during travel, most notably during that famous summer in college hitchhiking across the United States.

In 2015, Susan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even as she endured procedure after procedure, she managed to exude perpetual grace and a sense of humor. She was also a reliable source of information and encouragement for others with pancreatic cancer.

Susan will be missed by the many, whose lives she touched.

She is survived by her husband, Jerry Murphy, of Overland Park, Kan., her son, Matthew Wolfe of Aptos, Calif., her mother, Lois Houns of Eau Claire, her sister, Jane and brother-in-law Dr. Cortney Decker of Eau Claire, her uncle and aunt, Bruce and Pat Bishop of Tomahawk, her uncle and aunt Peter and Louise Houns of Edina, Minn., her cousin Linda Crouch of Arvada, Colo., her two nephews, Ryan (Nicole) Decker, of Somerset, Wis., and Brent (Lindsay) Decker of Minneapolis, Minn., and their five children; her stepson, Dr. William Rory (Glynis) Murphy of Overland Park, Kan., her step-daughter, Jocelyn Ensey, of Salem, Ore., her step-daughter Heather Murphy of New York City, and nine step grandchildren.

Susan was preceded in death by her adoring father, William R. Houns.

Susan’s celebration of life will be held this summer or early fall, in accordance with emerging public health guidance, and true to her spirit, it will occur in multiple locations: Wisconsin, Kansas and California.

The family suggests memorials in Susan’s memory to either the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Deana Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, Kan., or the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma, Calif.

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