Susan MacLean
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Obituary of Susan Marie MacLean

Susan Marie (Fraser) MacLean, 73, formerly of Peabody, died peacefully after a long illness on Saturday, October 17, 2020 at Academy Manor, Andover with her family by her side. She was the devoted wife of D. James MacLean, her high-school sweetheart and husband of 50 years. She was born in Peabody, Massachusetts, where she resided most of her life, on January 4, 1947, the daughter of the late Hugh and Marguerite (Moran) Fraser. She was a graduate of Bishop Fenwick High School in 1965 and Salem State University in 1969 and taught the second grade at the McCarthy School in Peabody for three years before having her two sons, whose care and teaching became her life’s work. Sue had an undeniable sparkle in her eyes, radiating a warmth that lit up each and every room she was in. Like all diamonds, however, that sparkle was borne from hardship. Having lost both her parents at an early age, Sue and her older brother Don essentially raised themselves with the help of an extended family and community. Until needing to move to a care facility, she lived in that same house, built by her grandfather, for her entire life and in the process owned the same phone number for over 65 years. The tumult of these early years often led her to seek the familiar over the new; tech-phobic, the day she finally broke down and got a mobile phone was a minor cause for celebration in the family. More importantly, it also made her keenly aware of the unseen struggles of those around her and, therefore, how healing the gift of simple human kindness could be. Besides her family, the other great love of Sue’s life was flowers. As her two sons began school, she steeled up the courage to ask a friend for a job at his shop, the Hi-da-Way Plant Branch in Salem, believing that while untrained, her love of plants and flowers could eventually make her into a good florist. She was both persuasive and right, enjoying a 25-year career there, channeling a rare gift to transform simple, freshly cut flowers into beautiful, fleeting messages – of congratulations, of sympathy, of connection and, in all cases, of love. In the end, her success can best be measured in the countless, daily snapshots of joy on the faces of those who were lucky enough to open their doors to a breathtaking arrangement Sue had somehow, almost magically, conjured to tell them that someone, somewhere, cared. Through the many years and literally tens of thousands of individual flowers she affectionately chose, cut, shaped and placed, hers was a life that understood the healing and restorative power of beauty. It was, however, as Nana to her two grandchildren, Stella and Liam, that she leaves an even deeper imprint. When diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s ten years ago, she announced to everyone, but specifically to them, “I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m going to try to keep laughing, no matter what comes next.” While their time together was cut tragically short, her example of humor, perseverance, decency and (again) deep and unconditional love will continue to shade, water and nurture them as her best and most long-lasting work. Sue’s favorite place on earth was West Beach, a small sliver of sand in Beverly Farms where she spent countless hours with family and friends. Her favorite time of day was dusk, sitting in a low chair with her feet in that sand, basking in the warm glow of the setting sun as it lit the oncoming waves with orange and ochre. At this magic hour she would say, each and every time and often to no one in particular, “I don’t know why people leave early and miss this. It’s the best part of the day.” After a long, awful struggle faced with courage and grace, she has earned, at last, the chance to linger carefree in the twilight, with only that best part left. She is survived by her husband, D. James MacLean of Danvers, her children, Todd MacLean and his wife Laura of Newton and Garrett MacLean of Detroit, Michigan, her precious grandchildren, Stella and Liam MacLean of Newton, a brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Catherine Fraser of Roslindale, and niece Emily Fraser of Alexandria, VA and nephew, Daniel Fraser of Tampa, Florida. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a small, private family service will be held in the coming days. A larger celebration of life will be held when possible and the family hopes all who were touched by Sue will be able to attend and share happy memories. Expressions of sympathy in Sue’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Wavery Oaks Rd., Waltham, MA 02452. Assisting the family is the Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home of Peabody. For guest book, please visit