Sue B. James
Sue B. James

February 2, 1933 - May 5, 2017
Resided in Denver, CO
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Obituary

Sue Ann Brownlee James Stuart, 84, former co-owner of Grand Lake Lodge and longtime resident of Denver and Grand Lake, CO, passed away peacefully on May 5, 2017, with family members at her side. "Sweet Sue" is fondly remembered and much loved by her large extended family and her numerous communities of friends. She was an exceedingly bright light in this world and was renowned for her warmth, her friendly and outgoing nature, her extreme generosity, and her sincere kindness towards all she met.

The youngest of four children born to John T. and Reed M. Brownlee of Omaha, NE, Sue spent nearly every summer of her childhood at Camp Holiday in Minnesota, where she developed her keen sense of adventure and athletic ability while honing her sailing skills, first as a camper and later as a camp counselor. Sue attended Central High in Omaha and in 1954 graduated with a teaching degree from the University of Nebraska ("Go Big Red!"), where she was a member of Delta Gamma Sorority and the Mortar Board National Honor Society. While attending Nebraska, she met her first love, Ted L. James, Jr., and they married on May 15, 1954.

Sue and Ted promptly moved to Colorado and spent their first summer of marriage living and working at Trail Ridge Store, elevation 11, 796 feet above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park. A move to Denver followed, where Sue taught first grade for two years and Ted started Teddy's Hamburgers in University Hills. Together they raised four children (Kathy, Ted III, Reed, and Kerri) in Denver while also moving back and forth seasonally to Grand Lake and Estes Park, where Ted and his father, Ted Sr. (Gramp) ran several successful businesses – Estes Park Chalet, Hidden Valley Ski Area, Trail Ridge Store, and the Grand Lake Lodge.

Each summer in Grand Lake, Sue sailed an M20 sailboat with husband Ted and eldest daughter Kathy as her crew. She became one of the first female skippers on the lake and won the Hoffstot trophy, earning her the nickname "Hoffstot Sue." In 1976, Ted was diagnosed with sinus cancer and the subsequent treatments caused him to go blind within a few years. Sue began working in the family business shortly thereafter and under the tutelage of her beloved mother-in-law, Perry James (Gram), Sue became an expert in Native American Arts and Crafts. Called "Saint Sue" by many, she was also Ted's compassionate caregiver until he died on October 16, 1994. Sue felt extremely blessed that Ted lived long enough to experience all of his children graduating from college, getting married, and adding three grandchildren to the growing James family tree.

During their marriage, Sue enjoyed many activities with Ted including alpine and cross-country skiing, tennis, hiking, attending National Park Concessionaire Conferences in over twenty National Parks and the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, and travelling to various exotic destinations with the Ports-of-Call Club, all while being active in a couples Koinonia Bible study group, bridge club, and a dinner/dancing club. They also enjoyed travelling with their children to Florida to visit Sue's beloved extended family, the Brownlee Clan. She particularly loved looking for seashells on Sanibel Island (a passion that she passed on to all of her children!) and delighted in waiting for the "green flash" at sunset while visiting her father, John Brownlee, who spent his winters in Ft. Myers Beach, FL. In addition, Sue was a member of the Junior League, the Denver Country Club, the Denver Chapter of Delta Gamma Alumnae, a "lunch bunch" group, and her decades-long prayer group. She also volunteered for her children's schools and scout organizations, her neighborhood Republican group, and the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Sue especially enjoyed sharing the many charms of Grand Lake with everyone she met and relished her role as an ambassador for the community, serving as Grand Marshall of the Buffalo BBQ parade and offering her tremendous energy and experience to (among others) the Grand Lake Yacht Club, the Grand Lake Women's Club, the Grand Lake Repertory Theater Board, Trinity Church of the Pines, and the Christian Ministry of the National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park Board. Sue also served as a "mom-away-from-home" for several generations of employees at Trail Ridge Store and the Grand Lake Lodge, helping them adjust to life away from home and creating fond memories for countless college kids from all over the United States and the world.

Following Ted's death, Sue travelled extensively with assorted friends and family. She enjoyed yearly buying trips to Arizona and New Mexico to stock her widely admired gift shop at the Grand Lake Lodge with Native American jewelry and art and also travelled around the US with her group of childhood friends from Omaha known as "the Hens." Sue also loved visiting her children when they lived out-of-state and overseas, including one memorable journey to visit her youngest daughter Kerri, who at the time was serving with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Other trips included New Zealand, a cruise through the Panama Canal, a guided tour of the Holy Land, several trips to Mexico (where she took a riotous banana boat ride while in her 70s), and a life-changing excursion to India via Hong Kong to visit her niece Martha Brownlee and husband Ray Wallace. Always game for an adventure, Sue even found the courage to go zip-lining in the Ozarks to celebrate her 80th birthday!

Several years after Ted's death, Sue began dating her second love, the wonderful Don Oden of Grand Lake. She was quite particular about what she was interested in when it came to dating, even making a list of characteristics the person had to have, and fortunately Don possessed nearly all of them: he was an actively-involved Christian, was kind and adventurous, and was thoroughly interested in Grand Lake and all things Scottish. They often went on jeep excursions in the mountains surrounding Grand Lake and were active members of Stillwater Community Church. She spent five wonderful years with Don before his untimely passing in 2002.

Not long after Don's death, Sue met the third love of her life, Bob L. Stuart. Both of them shared a love of family, Christian beliefs, and a desire to be in Grand Lake, and after a traditional courtship they married in 2003 at Stillwater Community Church with her four children, their spouses, and five grandchildren, as well as three of his four children, one spouse, and a grandchild in attendance. Sue and Bob also shared many fun travel adventures, including several trips to Bob's family reunions in various gorgeous locations in the US, frequent visits to Florida to see her family, train travel across Canada, a wonderful trip to Alaska, and a memorable trip to Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, they kept Sue's customary pattern of living in Grand Lake during the summer and then returning to Denver for the winter. In 2006, Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured a year of treatments in Denver, which sadly began a decade of declining health for her. In 2013, Sue sold her Denver house of fifty years and together with husband Bob moved into St. Andrews Village in Aurora, where they enjoyed an active lifestyle and a new community of friends. Bob became her sole caregiver for much of that time and sacrificed his own needs in order for her to have a fulfilling life. Sue often commented about how blessed she felt to have found three true loves in her lifetime.

Sue's first husband, Ted L. James, Jr, predeceased her. She is survived by her second husband of 13 years, Bob Stuart, as well as her beloved children: daughter Kathy James Rinker and husband John Rinker of Denver and grandson Dylan Rinker of Carlsbad, CA; son Ted L. James III and wife Elizabeth James of Eagle, CO (currently residing in Bratislava, Slovakia), grandson Will James Hardie and his wife Lakotah Hardie of Denver, CO, and granddaughter Katherine James of Ann Arbor, MI; son Reed B. James, wife Katie James, and grandchildren Hope, Susan Kate, Brownlee, and Marshall James, all of Littleton, CO; and daughter Kerri J. Geary, husband Mike Geary, and grandson Evan Geary, all of Ft. Collins, CO. Sue also leaves behind three step-daughters: Judy Stuart, Miriah Stuart, and Donna Stuart; step-son Gary Stuart, his wife Hilary, and daughter Ariana Stuart, all from the greater Portland, OR area; and sister-in-law Barbara James Williams of Estes Park, CO, as well as many nieces and nephews scattered around the country.

By any measure, Sue Ann Brownlee James Stuart lived a truly remarkable life, filled with grace and joy, laughter and adventure, yet also occasionally marked by somber tears and genuine heartache. Beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, cousin, and grandmother, compassionate lover of animals and children, kind companion and generous friend, she will be sorely missed and forever remembered by the countless people she met and befriended over the years. To all who knew her and experienced firsthand her shining grace and boundless kindness, please take solace in the belief that she has found peace and everlasting life in the arms of her Savior!

Celebration of Life services will be held Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 2 p.m. at Greenwood Community Church, 5600 E. Belleview Ave, Greenwood Village, CO 80111. A second service will be held Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Grand Lake Yacht Club in Grand Lake, CO. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in the name of Sue James to: The Grand Lake Repertory Theater Youth Theatre Program (P.O. Box 1682, Grand Lake, CO 80447), the Grand Lake Yacht Club Sailing Foundation (P.O. Box 983, Granby, CO 80446), and Breast Cancer Action (bcaction.org).

Please share memories of Sue and condolences with her family by signing the guestbook below.

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Services

Service
Greenwood Community Church
5600 East Belleview Avenue
Greenwood Village, CO US 80111
Thursday, July 20, 2017
2:00 PM