Suzanne Oesterreicher, 62, of Newton, died unexpectedly, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Loving daughter of Arthur Oesterreicher and Thelma “Tybee” (Jacobson) Oesterreicher, who predeceased her. Beloved wife of 31 years of Jeffrey Freudberg. Devoted and endlessly proud mother of Jeremy, Rose and Jake Freudberg. Loving sister of Jennie, Brian (Lorie), and Harry Oesterreicher; Lamiel (Danny) Navarro; and the late Milena O’Connor, who passed away in 2008. She was the best aunt possible to her nieces and nephews Rebecca (Ali) Aslam and Christopher Collura; Adam (Nicole Sweet), Michael (Jackie Cutrone), and Daniel (Beth Dion) Freudberg; and Corey O’Connor. She adored her great-nephews and great-nieces Evan, Noah, and Leah Freudberg; Rama and Amar Aslam; and Lily Freudberg. She is also survived by many dear family members with whom she shared close and enduring relationships, including her mother-in-law Rita Freudberg and sisters-in-law Audrey Freudberg and Lynn Gutter. She was predeceased by her brother-in-law Stuart Freudberg in June 2021 and father-in-law Richard Freudberg in April 2017.
She was born March 7, 1959 in Mount Kisco, NY. Her early childhood was spent in northern New Jersey, her junior high and high school years in Mountaindale, NY. She was a 1977 graduate of Fallsburgh Central High School in Sullivan County, NY, and a 1981 graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. She resided in Newton since then.
Suzanne’s life and the impact she had on her family, friends and the world around her can not be fully captured here. Those who knew her, loved her. And she knew many, many people, forging deep, lasting friendships and collegial relationships throughout her life and through her career as a marketing and sales director for Butterworth-Heineman/Reed Elsevier Publishing and later in her work to support the vital mission of Understanding Our Differences in Newton. She was a lover of the performing arts and a loyal supporter at numerous theaters in the Boston area, attending performances with friends and family. She contributed her time, talents and passion to doing good in the world in many ways, including volunteering as a tax preparer with AARP, working the polls, and organizing many events and activities at her children’s schools.
A private funeral for immediate family will be held on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 at Newton Cemetery, Newton, MA. The family will receive visitors (shiva) at their home from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Understanding our Differences, PO Box 600671, Newton, MA 02460; Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors, c/o Newton Community Pride, 1294 Centre St, Newton, MA 02459; or The Whale Museum, PO Box 945, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.
Suzanne (Sue) Oesterreicher Freudberg passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, September 25, 2021, leaving behind so many people she cherished and who loved her in return. She made friends and changed lives wherever she went, for everyone she met. Some called her Suzanne, some called her Sue. She was Momma to her children, Aunt Sue to her nieces and nephews, Smo/Smoley/Smolinsky to her siblings, and Bunny to her husband. While she went by many names, for this memorial tribute, let’s call her Sue.
You can’t sum Sue up in a few paragraphs, or tell her life story in any meaningful way without context and details. Lots of details. But if you had to describe her in one word, it would have to be unforgettable. She made a lasting impact on everyone she met. If you could use more than one word, you would describe her as powerful. And brave. (Truly brave.) Generous (to a fault). Devoted (to family and friends alike, old friends and new ones). Resourceful. Witty. Knowledgeable (about a million different things). The list could go on and on, because she knew just about every word in the dictionary. This is not surprising since she grew up studying every page in a mammoth Oxford dictionary so she could win at a family-favorite parlour game. In truth, Sue was pretty competitive—another good word to describe her—but generally in a good way. She loved to win games, and she usually did. Monopoly, Clue, Yahtzee, Pitch. Life. You name it, she won it. She loved to be in charge, offer advice, and solve problems. She always had an answer for everything.
Sue’s life began on March 7, 1959 in Mount Kisco, NY, the second child of Arthur and Thelma “Tybee” (Jacobson) Oesterreicher. She joined her elder sister Milena in the family that would soon include sister Jennie and brothers Brian and Harry. They were a noisy, boisterous family of intellectual do-gooders who tilted at windmills and believed deeply in justice, fairness, love and compassion.
While Sue was not technically the oldest child, she sure acted like it. As a two-year-old in diapers, she watched with envy when three-year-old Milena went in a taxi to preschool. The very next day Sue potty-trained herself so she, too, could go to preschool. And that’s how her life continued to roll. She was a go-getter, self-determined and self-reliant, achieving just about everything she set her mind to accomplishing. Milena may have been the birth-order eldest, but anyone who saw Sue’s family-of-origin in action just naturally assumed she was the oldest. Sue took that role and she ran with it, and she made it look easy.
In 1977, Sue graduated from Fallsburgh Central High School as a stellar student in a small-town community in Sullivan County, NY. She then enrolled at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, where she graduated in May 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies (and an accidental second major in Psychology). What can you do with a degree like that? Well if you’re Sue, you parlay that degree and your work-study experiences in the African Studies department at Brandeis to become a marketing and sales director for Butterworth-Heineman/Reed Elsevier Publishing. And then you marry the love of your life, Jeffrey Freudberg, in September 1990.
Sue loved kids. All kids. Especially her family member’s kids. First-born niece Rebecca Aslam was the first to feel Sue’s passionate and devoted love. But Sue then shared it equally with the nieces and nephews who followed, including Christopher Collura; Adam, Michael, and Daniel Freudberg; and Corey O’Connor. And, oh the day her twins were born! Sue and Jeffrey were a well-integrated tag-team of devoted parents to Jeremy and Rose from the day they entered the world in January 1997. And then they welcomed Jake with open arms in August 2000. Whatever her kids loved, Sue loved it, too. Baseball, orchestras, gymnastics and trapeze. Sue was right there cheering for her kids, and learning all the intricacies of their interests so she could be a part of them, too. She held her kids’ hands tightly enough so they felt secure, and yet loosely enough so they could explore the world. Yes, the world. From the Azores to Ireland, Maine to California, and lots of places in between, Sue’s kids now travel freely and with confidence, knowing they have the full support of their parents who made sure they had the knowledge and skills to forge their own paths. Sue taught them independence, but she was always there to be a decisive voice.
Sue also loved cats, all cats, and especially her beloved Helen, Uno and Mila. Growing up, Sue loved many other cats—too many to name here but still forever etched on her heart—and also one delightful dog, Red Dukie Yowmie.
While Sue loved being home with her purring kitties, she also loved to travel. She regularly planned a wide array of family adventures, often revisiting over and over again her family’s favorites. Sue and her family were regular guests at East Hill Farm and visitors to Storyland, both in New Hampshire. They also made an annual day trip to Horseneck Beach in southeastern Massachusetts, which they had down to a very exact science, stopping before the beach at a local farmstand to buy just about everything, eating (the best) lobster rolls and blueberry pie at the Bayside Restaurant, and finishing the day with ice cream. When her kids were younger, Sue and Jeffrey would load up the car to head west to upstate New York to visit Sue’s sister Jennie, joining up for “dino-digging” giggles at the Eagle Mills Cider Mill and Family Fun Park. These family trips often included Sue’s extended family of relatives and friends. For years, for example, niece Corey was part of many trips to East Hill Farm, Horseneck Beach, and Eagle Mills, while mother-in-law Rita, father-in-law Richard, and close friend Lillian visited the Farm too.
While Sue’s adult years were spent delighting in her children’s escapades and those of her nieces and nephews, she also devoted considerable time to volunteering at her kids’ schools, organizing complex events that required a great deal of time and leadership to prepare and execute, such as the Bowen Elementary School raffle and the Newton South High School used book sale. She used her talents to support the vital mission of Understanding Our Differences in Newton, tackling essential development and operations projects with them for many years. She further directed her passion for doing good in the world by serving as a volunteer tax preparer with AARP to help senior citizens accurately complete their tax returns at no cost to them. She also worked the polls for local elections in Newton alongside Jeremy and Rose, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when being a poll worker was potentially quite a risky thing to do. Sue was an ardent advocate for many social causes, from saving the endangered Orca whales to supporting the local mutual aid group in Newton.
Sue enjoyed the performing arts and was a loyal supporter at numerous theaters in the Boston area. Attending shows with her friends and with her daughter Rose, she loved every genre from comedy to drama, and it was rare to find a show for which she didn’t leave with a glowing review. She was a longtime supporter of the New Repertory Theater in their years in Newton, and she was a recent subscriber to Speakeasy Stage, the American Repertory Theater, and numerous others. She was even a volunteer usher for many performances with her friend Betty so they could add even more shows to their packed show schedule. In addition to theatre, Sue became a lover of circus arts, a passion of Rose’s, and she was an eager audience member at many of these shows as well.
In recent years, it was time to welcome the next generation of children. Sue was totally enthralled with her great-nephews and great-nieces Evan, Noah, and Leah Freudberg; Rama and Amar Aslam; and Lily Freudberg. She loved being around all the young, wide-eyed, playful ones. She brought endless gifts, spent hours playing and planning outings, and formed a special relationship with each one. She visited Rama and Amar weekly—sometimes more than weekly—and was known for bringing over bubble blasters and ice cream treats. She could spend hours recounting stories of the silly things she had done with “her babalings” that week and gushed over their every achievement and milestone. She gave them—and she received from them—complete, unadulterated, unconditional love.
It’s no wonder, really, that she loved kids. Sue’s childhood was a jumble of children laughing and playing, sometimes in pairs and trios, and sometimes all five siblings together. She carried that sense of family joy with her as she built her adult life around the children she loved. But her first real love was her sister Milena, for whom she had to bid a broken-hearted farewell when she died in 2008 following a long, tortuous illness. Sue was there for Milena, right up until the end. Sisters, always. As hard as that loss was—and it was indeed hard—grief was no stranger to Sue. She lost her grandfather Herman when she was nearly 5, her grandfather Jacques when she was 19, her mother when she was 20, her grandmother Kate when she was 21, and her father when she was 37. Through all those losses, Sue was always the strong one that others counted on to carry the ball forward, and to help everyone else carry on, too. She was there to support her family when her father-in-law Richard died in 2017 and then again when her brother-in-law Stuart died in June, just three months before her own passing.
In the weeks before her death, Sue was troubled with pains in her back and her hip, but she was taking steps to address those issues. She did not know, nor did her family and friends, that her time to pass would soon come in an instant. She had lunch plans with her dear friend Lillian the day she died. She was also preparing to leave on yet another vacation with her husband, kids and mother-in-law, and they would have been joined later in the week by those two great-nephew babalings she loved so much. (And oh yes, the babalings’ parents were coming to join the fun, too.)
While it ended far too soon, Sue lived her life fully and completely, not wasting a second. Busy, productive, and oh so loved, right up until the end. She leaves a “Sue” shaped hole that her family and friends don’t know how to fill. We can’t and we won’t. We will leave the light on in her honor, and we will carry the ball forward the best we can, guided and strengthened by the eternal echoes of Sue’s so-often-shared words of encouragement and advice.