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September 10, 2006



I can't say I knew Susan all that well but we did have a few chats over the years.

It's always a loss when we lose someone. My condolences to her close friends on the loss of their beloved friend.


Carolyn S

I only ever knew Susan online. I knew her as thoughtful and caring with a sense of fun. Often when I said something in cyberspace about some struggle or problem here in NZ she had something supportive and helpful to say.

I remember looking in awe at some of the beautiful pictures of Alaska that she posted online.


I have fond memories of Alaska particularly from the early years of XWP fandom. Still have our e-mail exchanges from 1997-1998 when we would start talking about some fanfic story or the episodes or the PMSing on a XWP list. I remember with amusement this one time she e-mailed me asking about a story with a specific scene but wanting to make sure I didn't think she had some strange obsession because she was mentioning the scene. I assured her that most of us who read the story liked it BECAUSE of that scene ;-) Sometimes a list would be silent for months and then you'd get a post from Alaska saying "Hey - is this thing on - anyone still out there?" and it would spark a conversation where we would all reminiss and get in touch again. Meeting Alaska and becoming her friend online was definitely among the best parts of the Xenaverse. I'm sorry she's gone but her humor and warmth will live on in those e-mail messages and postings in many of our hard drives - and in our hearts.

Lunacy (Maribel Piloto)

Chris Clogston

My first encounter with Alaska was shortly after the first Hercules/Xena Convention in 1997. She invited me to the first New York City XenaFest, picked me up at the airport, cheerfully provided transportation, and regaled me with funny stories. We would ping each other occasionally and run into each other at Xena Conventions. I am deeply saddened by her passing, such a loss to HCNBs everywhere.

Kym Taborn

Susan assisted me through a vey tense time during a medical scare. She gave me support when I needed it and I will always be grateful to her for that. We can make a significant impact on another's life without knowing it -- just by being ourselves. Death has a way of making us take a moment or two to ponder such things moreso than we would without tragedy.

I am lesser because now the potential for me to interact with Susan is gone. However, I was already better because of the interactions I had with Susan in the past. No one can take your memories away. They are with you forever. Therefore, Susan will still be with us as each one of us remembers her and our own unique relationships with her.

Anita aka Bluesong

Susan was always fun and interesting to read. I loved her take on life. I greatly enjoyed her comments as seen from the "medical" side of things, too.

I once called her after she wrote that she was feeling lonely during one of her Alaska moves. She was chatty and happy to hear from me. We talked of Xena and that connection - so unique - was more than enough.

She will be missed.


I count Susan as one of my close online buddies. We often exchanged private emails and public stories of our dogs. When she was in Sand Point – how ever did she end up there but by the deep graciousness of a woman born to help others – I taped cooking shows for her. It was easy for me to leave a tape in, program the VCR to PBS, and visit the post office a couple of times a month. But Susan decided it was some sort of heroic feat and sent me a book on the Aurora Borealis and a lovely piece of fossilized coral to me in return. This past Christmas, she sent my pooch two big bags of Wild Alaskan Salmon dog treats (and I must say that Percy thought them quite delectable).

So that’s a sampling of my interactions with Susan. It does not, however, even begin to describe how I came to know her as a human. Susan was warm and caring and thoughtful and kind. We who have pets understand her a little better when we think of how she rescued boxers – four of them over the recent years. Boxers are big dogs who take a lot of exercise; for a woman with very little free time to dedicate those precious hours to the welfare of her dogs tells you a lot about her. At work and at home she devoted herself to making other lives better. She sacrificed time and time again to improve the condition of those around her. It often took her to places that weren’t good for her as “Nurse Nightmare” the crazy vine lady proved. Still, she made choices based on what she think she needed to do to make this world a better place: live in remote areas of Alaska delivering much needed healthcare for a fraction of what she could have made in San Francisco.

I almost made a trip up to Haines to visit this summer but postponed it to next year. We had talked about my spending a month or two there to work in quiet solitude while on sabbatical next fall.

I am going to miss her. The world needs more people like her.

-Carolyn (baermer)

Leah Strock

Susan was an amazing human being. She was generous in heart and in spirit. I only wish she knew how many people thought of her before she died.
Thanks for making this memorial.

Holly Hansen and Nancy Wagner

I found this quote online and though it perfect on so many levels.

A large percentage of us were tied to her though the Xenaverse. And we all remember how the show ended, with Xena and Gabrielle sailing off into the sunset. So having said that:

"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at
my side says, "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" And that is dying.

- Anonymous

Smooth sailing Susan, aka Alaska,

Blessed Be
Holly and Nancy

Betsy Book

I first got to know Susan back in 1997, when she was living here in NYC and helped organize the first NYC Xenafest. She impressed me back then as a sweet and smart person with a great sense of humor. Alaska then became a welcome part of the Xena Palace community in 1998 and was known for her "scowly" smiley, which I always thought was an ironic choice of avatar for such a sweet, good natured person. She was fairly active on our listserv this summer, wishing people happy birthdays and helping others through their own difficult times. I wish we had only known what a difficult time she was going through herself.

Alaska was always so concerned and caring about
other people. I can only hope that she has found her own peace now.

Holly M. Paddock

I never met Susan in person but we both used to go to the Xena Palace frequently. Just like Betsy said... I also thought it strange that she would use the "scowly" smiley as well. She was always the first to crack a joke and jump into the conversation. She will be missed. :(

Liz Baker aka Dearcy

The Xenaverse mourns the loss of one of its own.

I hope you find peace, Alaska. With lots and lots of boxers to keep you company.

Rebecca Segal

I only chatted with Susan a few times, but she always seemed so very nice. I'm happy she was able to live in what she felt was the most beautiful place on Earth, but so sad that that enjoyment was overshadowed by so much physical and mental pain. I hope that wherever she is now, she is at ease and blessed.


I didn't know Dr Susan at all. Even though we frequented the same online community. After reading this website, I wish I could have known her. At least a little. I will pray for her and would like to let her know, as I'm sure she is listening to all of us from wherever she is, that by reading of her life it has impacted me immensly.

C Newlin

I envy those who had the great privelige of knowing Susan in person.

Even in her large virtual circle of friends she has already left a permenant void with her passing.

I'll be keeping her in in my thoughts and carrying her in my heart, and I will try and see people's hurt, and help where I can.

Linda Johannessen

I am so saddened to hear about Susan and the pain she must have felt that led to such a decision. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I feel sure her next life will be one of peace and joy.


I only knew Susan through cyberspace, a community of boxer lovers from all over the world. She touched my heart with her generous soul and kind heart and I am sorry we never got the chance to meet when she was only 3 hours away on a conference. She had given us an itinerary of sorts to use when we eventually get out that way and graciously offered to have us stay with her. I am sorry we will never get that chance to meet face to face. The world is truly a lesser place without Susan in it and she will be missed. My condolences to all her friends and if Dianne reads this please give Shubert, Cricket and Bailey big smoochies and hugs from me. Bless your heart for taking them in.


I'm so very very saddened by this event. I didn't know Alaska well, but remember her kindness to another member of the list serve this past summer impressing me. I went to see the pictures she'd posted of her Alaskan home, and thought she really had found her niche. I too, was unaware of her physical pain and emotional troubles. Any death saddens, and suicide in particular is emotional for me. I feel terrible. My condolences to all of you who knew and loved her best. Pi


What a special place the 'verse is to have had people like Susan in it.


Alaska loved a party. And we used any opportunity as an excuse to get together for a Xena-related event. Alaska was on my standard "invitee" list and was a fixture at many of them, especially once I had moved north to San Francisco.

Alaska, Maria and I chatted over martinis more than once about life and love and, as was usually the case, the conversation somehow always found its way back to Xena.

Of the many Xenaverse friends who had wandered into our lives during those years, Alaska was always one of our favorites. She was warm and fun. I remember her skill as a doctor came into good use at one party ... someone had wandered (should I say staggered?) around to the side of our house and tripped over some chicken wire, gashing her knee and leg.

Alaska was right there with care and first aid and even gave up her cane for the week-end. In fact, I had it for some time before finally returning it to her.

One of the last times I saw Alaska, she was sitting on the bed in my room watching that last episode of Xena. We were showing it in private screenings in the back bedroom behind closed doors for those who couldn't wait for the official broadcast. She was so quiet in there, I peeked in to see if she was all right and found her looking just as shell-shocked as everyone else I had checked on that day.

Maria and I really enjoyed Alaska. She was kind and thoughtful, fun to be around and a pleasure to have in my home.

I was honored to have known her. I wish I had taken her up on one of her many offers and had visited her in Alaska. I wish I had kept in touch with her - I sadly admit that the years have gone by and just as Xena has faded from my life, so have I let many of the friends I had made during those wonderful years.

I am proud to have known a woman who changed her life, became a doctor (no small feat), moved to Alaska, rescued boxers ...

She definitely touched my life in a very special way, and I will remember her always.

Alaska ... I'm thinking of you.

Kathy Struve

Susan will be remembered as a "cyber" friend who always knew just the right thing to say. She never failed to send kind words or letters of encouragement whenever my family was faced with tragedy and loss. I loved reading her stories of Alaska and especially of her adventures with her Boxer Galz. Her words painted beautiful pictures that made me feel like I was right there sharing in her adventures. She will be missed.


i didnt know u and i received this link by email...so i visited your website. Im from france ...

Hosanna Lahaie-Lee

Katt and are leaving for Haines shortly. It is a drive of over 850 miles one way.We will be there for her Memorial on Sunday afternoon. Thank you for all of your beautiful thoughts.

Susans passing is a loss for all of humankind. Her story one of a true warrior. I can hear her voice on my phone recorder.... and that will soothe me until we get back.
I will write more later. Namaste, hosanna


I shall always remember Susan as a brave and brilliant person who committed herself one hundred percent to her life. Susan didn't just have dreams - she made them happen in an inspiring way. But these dreams weren't selfish ones: her compassion extended to all in need, and she equipped herself to help others in practical ways.

I corresponded with her for years over the internet and will very much miss her emails. I wish I could have met her in real life and experienced her beloved Alaska first hand. The world is a poorer place today for the loss of her intelligence, skill, kindness and generosity.

Di Bauden

I used to chat with Susan in the Xena Palace around 1998 or so. She was a great voice of support when I first started writing. I'd never known her to be anything but a fun loving friend to everyone. It saddens me deeply to know she was in such pain. I truly hope she's found the peace she sought. She will definitely be missed. Godspeed, Alaska.

Nola (enjay)

I knew Susan through Xena and other mailing lists, but I also had the good fortune to meet her several times in real life, and it was always a great treat.

When I think of Susan, I think of passion. Not the passion of fleeting drama and excitement, but the passion of a deep, lasting involvement with and love for life. It was what gave her a desire to help others. It was what made her so interested in and concerned about the lives of her friends. It was what gave her the commitment to her work. It was what made her take on her boxer galz. It was what made her take chances most of us would have run from. It was what made her care so much, about everything.

I don't believe for a moment that this great passion for life in all its beautiful variety ever changed, even as she chose to leave it.

Susan, It was a joy and a privilege to have known you. I wish I'd had a chance to tell you so.

Christina Ghimenti

Susan, I admired you. I admired your heart for your elderly Boxers. I admired your spirit for taking charge. I admired you for being such a level headed mature woman whom had an visible humility. I wish you had not left us and the girlz. I wish you could have felt comfortable opening up and asking for help. There are so many of us whom you touched in a profound way. You were such an inspiration to so many. We love you in life as we love you in death.

Susan came to my house 2 years ago when I had a litter of 5 week old Boxer puppies. She was living in San Francisco and the time. We had known each other online for a few years. I was posting photos of the puppies on an email list and she told me she had never had the pleasure of a puppy Boxer, let alone seeing such young ones. Already of course believing she was one of the greatest Boxer souls I knew, I invited her over to spend an afternoon with the puppies. Susan was delighted. I let her visit with my older Boxers first; Crystal, Booker T and Penny. Then I brought the puppies out into the living room to romp. Susan lit up!! She loved it! She sat down and seemed almost afraid to move lest the pups would disappear in a puff of smoke. I encouraged her to play with them and let them investigate her. Her happiness was shining. I felt so good to have shared something very precious to me with someone who cleared understood it. Once the pups all dropped off to sleep, we have her girlz lose in the house and yard. She had just 2 at that time. They were so well behaved. They seemed to know Susan was their mom and they clearly adored her. She emailed me later that week and again thanked me for having her over. Knowing she was soon moving back to Alaska, I was thrilled I had finally been able to touch base with someone I had "known" for several years. Now I treasure that afternoon all over again.

Susan, know that you are loved!!

bj Stranger

I'll always remember Susan the way she looked when I first met her outside NBC studios in New York City one frosty cold Friday morning in March 1997. There were a bunch of Xena fans there dressed in costumes and/or waving Xena signs. When I arrived I was on the wrong side of the crowd and she came over and got me.

"Hi, are you bjStranger? I'm Alaska."
"Yes, hi! How'd you know it's me?"
"Your sign says ROCanuck on it!"

It was the New York Xenafest and showing up at The Today Show was all part
of the festivities. After having read her witty online posts to `Xenaverse’ it was exciting to meet Susan in person. The sign she was carrying said, “NYC XENA FEST” and mine, “Gabrielle & Xena Forever.” She introduced me to Mist, Bonnie, Brooke and some other New Yorkers. Everyone had a ball that morning and we made it on TV for all of about ten seconds.

Later that day Susan showed up at a party in the hotel room I was staying in. There were a bunch of women there from one of the online Xena mailing lists we belonged to. I got to know Susan a little bit better. She was sweet and unassuming. She was itching to finish med school and get out of NYC--to eventually start doctoring up in Alaska, the state that she’d fallen in love with. She told me a little about her life—leaving home when she was a teenager and putting herself through school. I marveled at her perseverance--that she was going to graduate as a doctor despite all. I told her about some of the trials and tribulations of my good friend Jane, a doctor who’s cared for the Innu population in a remote community in northern Labrador since 1986.

Later that same year I saw Susan briefly in Valley Forge, PA at the 1997 Xena Convention. She told me summer in NYC had been a hot sweaty experience. We traded stories on how heat gets down into subway systems, whether in NYC or Toronto. We hoped to cross paths again at the next Xena Con. in San Francisco but never did.

In fact we never met face to face again but in the years to come we kept running into one another on the same online mailing lists. Whatever the topic, Susan’s posts were always well written—at times serious, at times riotous and irreverent.

Of the many things I admired about Susan, her courage and determination stand out the most. She had a heart of gold, a wry sense of humour and a spirit of adventure. After 9/11, and when the war in Iraq commenced she wrote many a passionate post about politics.

After she adopted Shubert and the rest of her Boxer fur-kids I enjoyed reading about their adventures and escapades together. Like the time they met the moose on one of their walks, and the time the girls ran into trouble with the porcupine.

I'm so sorry that Susan is gone now. I'll miss reading her email posts about being a doctor in Alaska and about life with her girls. She had a short life but that life was FULL to the brim. Rest in peace Susan. I'm really glad I met you.


Li (aka GuitarBabe)

I am so saddened by this. The tears are overwhelming.
We met almost 10 years ago and kept in touch via email now and then...she was one of the first women to buy my CDs without even having heard the music.
She shared her dreams of finding cures and helping people.

I wish she had allowed 'us' to help her.
I am sorry Susan. My heart will leave an empty space.


Sometimes you meet and correspond with someone online and really
like them and then you meet them in real life and they're not
really the person that you clicked with online. Susan does NOT
fall into this category. We'd talked online about dogs and other
random stuff for years and then Liz and I had the chance to meet
up with her when she was visiting Baltimore this February for a

I told her what car we'd be driving and that she'd recognize it
when she saw it. When we pulled up to the hotel, she saw the car,
stood up, and gave us this 100-watt smile. We went out to Fells
Point and wandered around some of the stores, including a pet
store where she got a couple of dog jackets for her boxers.

Since she was on an expense account for meals, she wanted to go
to a posh restaurant, but we checked out some menus and ended
up going to this nice and comfortable place (not posh) that had

Susan ordered oysters and talked me into trying a couple. She
really knew her oysters. I've never delved into oysters before,
preferring the known quantity of non-mollusk foods, but I think
I might venture into that arena in the future in honor of her.

She talked about all the various varieties of oysters with
incredible knowledge. I had no idea that some varieties were
sweeter than others, that some were saltier, etc.

We had a great evening -- one of those that you don't want to
actually end, but finally we had to take her back to her hotel.
A few months after that, I saw some tapes of Prime Suspect,
remembered that her viewing options were limited, and got them,
meaning to send them to her. Those tapes are still sitting on a
shelf here. And I regret every second that I didn't send them
to her -- not because it would have made a difference in her final
choice, but because it might have made a difference to her quality
of life. It's just another reminder that we need to be more
active about doing the things that we mean to do.

In May, Susan, ever the dog lover, offered to sponsor us for a walk
to benefit the local humane society, but her life got in the way so
I sent her an email telling her not to worry and that if she'd not
sent the check to not to send it. She replied to me on July 1st,
asking if she could still send a donation for our efforts. I started
a new job in June and totally missed her email until this past Monday
night. I sent her a message telling her not to worry about it -- that
I'd hit her up next year.

The next day I heard the news.

Dogspeed Susan. I hope that you are now in a better place where you
aren't in pain and boxers romp in the sun with you. I wish that I had
truly known how much pain you were in in case there was some small chance
that I could have helped with any of it. I'm a better person for having
known you.

And I thank you for that.

Debbie Champine

Susan came to Las Vegas on business last year and made it a point to come and see all of our boxers and to get her "fix" while away from the girls. She was a caring person whom I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet. She brightened my life for an evening and I hope we did the same for her.

Debbie Champine
Las Vegas Nevada

James Bond Loves Lucy Lawless

My deepest condolences to Dr. Susan Barnes family and friends as well, and my great sympathies for her. I had not known of her, but she sounded like a great Xena fan and very warm, human, intelligent, and caring person as well. I am saddened of her passing and reminded of my own plights. Heaven must be a very nice place however.

James Bond Who Loves Lucy Lawless Forever

Erin (aka kyotey)

Alaska, we hardly knew you.

She was so brave and wild and simply unbelievable for moving, all alone except for the galz, to those amazingly remote places in Alaska. I was envious of her ability to just cut loose and go, doing what she wanted to do, where she wanted to, and I told her that. She responded that anyone could do what she did, it was just another one of life's choices, nothing brave about it at all. She was so wrong about that; she was an amazingly brave woman.

Susan’s stories about her life were fun, and fascinating, and beautiful, and sometimes sad enough to make you cry at your keyboard. She would write about having a part in rescuing an injured eagle, eating wild berries on the side of the road, the incredible beauty of an Alaskan sky, the joy of watching her Boxer galz run on a beach. She would also write about alcoholism and poverty and spousal abuse, the effect of a dead baby on an entire community, the necessity for some doctors to do things that others would refuse. Susan, you were so brave.

We met on an XWP list of course, then met in person at an XWP gathering in California, and later wound up on another list together. We talked about politics, the doggies, work, my kids, my problems, and, occasionally, the gray in her head, her feelings of isolation, and her hopes for a better future. She wrote that the internet would literally be her lifeline. I’d write a quip or a paragraph or two, and Susan would write back a page or three. She was always colorful and engaging, and could make you feel, for a short time, how it was to live in Alaska.

I wish I had saved all of her emails, that she had known what she meant to me and others, that her life had been a little better. I hope that she knows, somehow, that we are thinking about her and that her doggies are being taken care of, and that that makes her happy.

jill, aka pericat

I can't think of oysters without thinking of Susan. I can't think of oysters, see them on a menu, in an ice-filled bin in the store, or see their shells washed up on the shore, without thinking of how Susan smiled and laughed and joked as she dug into a platter of oysters, oysters, oysters, six different kinds, prepped in ten different ways. Raw, smoked, sauteed... for all I know, grilled and skewered and boiled and mashed.

A bright blue martini in her hand, delight in her eyes and joy radiating out. And oysters. She did so love them.

I miss you, Susan.

Cathy from Florida

I knew Susan from the grand days of Xena fandom, and did some travelling with her to the Canadian Rockies and she visited me here in Florida for a few days. One of my favorite vacations was the trip she went on with me and Minda from Calgary to Jasper in the Rockies. The scenery was spectacular. It was quite an adventure. Susan had a great smile and a wonderful sense of humor. The many friends she made from Xena and her Boxer dog organizations meant alot to her. She would be blown away by all these tributes, and I'm sure she never realized her much she was loved by all of you. Maybe we can learn something by this. Reach out, call that friend you have been neglecting. Send an e-mail or call. Plan a get-together. I have a trip to Vancouver planned soon to visit with Tam, Minda and Demeter. We will toast Susan's life over a glass of wine and remember the fun times we all had together. She would really like that.

Christine Hamric

"xalaska" ... You know, I always moved a little closer to my screen and prepared myself for another enthralling story whenever I saw that name identifying the sender on our "Boxer List" group. I knew another story about Susan Barnes was at hand. I could count on that. A great story. A few moments of pleasant escape into a true-life adventure.

At those times I'd ponder: Who IS this person, "xalaska" aka Susan Barnes? She seemed to me to be a vulnerable young girl on her own in life with her dogs to protect, who shared some of her joys and challenges in San Francisco who eventually undertook a journey toward a new life in Alaska. She was doing this alone, and we could relate to her occasional trepidations of the task ahead. Well, of course, she made it. She settled in and reported back to the group the many milestones of her new life. Sure, I was interested in her because of the dogs our group had in common -- heaven knows how much she loved those Boxers, and we all related to that. But I found her especially magnetic because of her somewhat bigger than life stories and the way she told them.

It wasn't until a couple of days ago, after the news of her passing, that I became aware of the details of her life. My relationship with Susan was quite simple. She blessed me with occasional stories which she posted to our Boxer group. I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of her passing, and am now thankful to have some closure through reading what others are sharing about this lovely person.

She was an active contributor to our Boxer newsgroup. I'm going to miss that. God speed, xalaska. Thank you for the adventures. Run now with Maggie and Junebug.

Christine Hamric
San Diego, CA
[email protected]

Terry Holthus from Sand Point

I wasn't blessed with your companionship for very long, but you made a very positive, life long, impact on my daughters, boxers & myself. You were always so positive, with a loving, open, helping heart. When I first met you, it seemed like we had known each other before. It was so easy to talk to you about such a variety of subjects.

When the girls were sick, you made lots of house calls, & I never even had to ask you to. The first time you made your pancakes, with all of that fresh fruit, for breakfast...well, the girls wanted to go to your house for breakfast every day. No matter how often I found my daughters at your house, talking with you & playing with your girls, you were always happy they had made thier way over, & disappointed when I had to take them back home.

When I needed a boxer fix, Cricket, Shubert, Bailey & you were always more than will to help out. I remember finally getting my boxer pups coming, but couldn't find a way to get them here from Anchorage. You helped all you could. In the end you ended up being in Anchorage & being more help than I had ever imagined. My two new babies came in nasty crates, after their 6 hour flight. You weren't bothered at all. We loaded them into your truck, & went back to the hotel to clean it all up for the next flight. They looked & smelled beautiful for thier arrival into my daughters hands. I was sure to tell the girls how much cleaning you had to help me with, as well as cuddling the new pups, just to get them ready.

I can only hope Cricket, Shubert & Bailey are in a good, loving home, & still together. I know they are mourning thier mother/friend & wondering where you are. You were/are thier life, as they were yours. I wish I wouldn't have put off answering your emails. I thought my life was to busy to reply & I would get to it later. Guess I never thought there wasn't going to be a later. I hope you are happy & at peace.

We will miss you dearly Susan! Thank you for opening this page. It has been nice being able to see how much she was loved & will be missed by many.

Debbie Cauble

The ripples of Susan's life continue to wash over us. How fully she loved life and loved her beautiful Alaska. How passionately and selflessly she cared for other people and other living beings, including her beloved boxers. How spiritedly she embraced adventure and change and fun. How much she had to bear, and how little some of us knew about that.

In the days since Susan left us people have reached out to others in many ways. In life and beyond life, she had so much more impact than she ever knew. I'll never forget this wonderful complex woman that I never quite got up to see when she lived in San Francisco. Like Terry I never thought there wouldn't be a later.
In Susan's honor and memory, I'm going to try to not let life pass me by, and work on being more attuned to what others may be suffering.

Nola's comment really struck me - that Susan's passion for life never changed, even as she chose to end her own.

My heart goes out to all of Susan's wide circle of friends, and especially those closest to her.

linda fiorella

i've been thinking a lot about susan all week. she was the first xena fan i ever met in person and meeting her eventually led me to meet so many more friends, people who have been extremely important in my life. i owe it all to susan. i met her at the first xena night i ever went to at meow mix in nyc. she eventually sponsored me to a super dooper secret listserv for xena fans. even though i have met many more people because of having met susan, i have yet to meet a kinder, more giving one. i haven't seen susan in years but that hasn't changed her ability to touch my heart or our ability to connect when the need was there.
i will miss her. i do miss her.

debbie baker

I was on vacation when I found out about Susan. What a shock it was. I really didn't know Susan very well. I meet her through BML and we emailed each other a couple of times. But I enjoyed her great sense of humor and the way that Susan was always willing to help. I wish I could have known her better. The world will indeed be a much sadder place without her. I will always remember her wonderful sense of humor.
Godspeed Susan. You will be sadly missed.

Terri Latta-Soja

I spent a lot of time thinking of Susan this week. I knew her from the Boxer Mailing List and even though we never met in person, her emails often touched me or made me laugh. After her death, the list opened up to discussions of many things "non" Boxer, as people talked about depression or their surgery problems or being gay. I don't think Susan ever realized the impact she had on people and even in death she got people to talk about things that they normally keep to themselves. Godspeed Susan, we'll miss you!


When I think of Susan, I remember the battle between what she wanted to be doing and the burdens she carried in doing it, both financial and personal. Then I look at that great picture of her with her dogs in the snow, and remember the glee with which she talked about that particular moment, and figure this is a portrait of the loving and caring person behind all the pressures. I never had an opportunity to meet Susan, though I dreamed of getting to Alaska. She'd have made a great destination. I admired her work in small places which desperately needed her help, and her willingness to search for the right post, even if it meant making tough decisions. No decision must have been tougher than this one, though. I hope she has found peace.

Suzun Brackenbury

I have known Susan for more than half of my life; 27 years we considered each other family. She was my first love at the age of 25. She has been a true friend through out the last 27 years of my life. As friends sometimes do there have been times when we hadn't seen or heard from each other for months but when we did reconnect it was as if no time at all had passed. Before she moved to AK, for the third or fourth time I can't remember, she threw a fabulous going away party ; she went all out for her friends/ family. That woman knew how to throw a wonderful party! I was happy to stay and help with the garage sale and subsequent packing up for the trip the following day. That day in March Susan, Johann and the galz were to make the journey to Vancouver and ultimately AK. With promises to call, write and visit she was gone. It was the last time I saw that million dollar smile and those wonderful "Galz"... March 2005.

She reached AK; there were emails and a few phone calls with talk of my visiting in the summer 2006. It had been a couple of months since we last spoke but through emails we had planned a visit to her this summer in her beloved Alaska. I was to finally get to see why she love that particular place on the planet. Though through emails with digial photos it was easy to see the Alaska lure. Unfortunately my health kept me from making the trip and I figured there would always be the fall or next summer; not so! I figured my friends will always be a phone call, email or a visit away. Susan's passing wakes me to our mortality as humans and to connect with those I most love. I deeply regret not giving her a call when I thought of her which was almost daily. Reminders of Susan occur in my life daily; seeing Boxers romping in the dog park, listening to music, watching independent films especially Eraserhead and other quirky films; forinstance just the other day I saw A Scanner Darkly I thought: "Oh I gotta tell Susan to go see this one or rent it when it comes out on video." I did not make that call thinking: "there's always tomorrow." With this knowledge I have made those calls to friends and family in the days since hearing of her taking her own life. Making sure those dear to me know exactly that!

I knew she had been depressed about many things in her life yet was extremely happy to have found "the most beautiful place on earth" to live and with her beloved "galz" and her "great job as the medical director in Haines". I had hoped those things that were going right and the galz she held most precious would sustain her through her physical, emotional and financial pain. Tragically I was wrong.

A deep thank you to Diane Nelson for taking in the galz Cricket, Bailey and Shubert at Susan's request. Let it be known if anyone wishes to make a donation in Susan's send it to the care of her "galz" via Diane Nelson (see the post from Leah for the address). There is a memorial being planned at UCSF (where Susan worked before this last move to AK )as I write this post. Will post the particulars when I know more.

Great appreciation and healing energy going out to Hosanna and Katt for speaking with her parents asking them to allow her friends / chosen family see to her remains and personal effects. It means so much to me knowing that "they" are not in charge. My deep gratitude to you two Hosanna and Katt for doing what must be one of the hardest things you have done. I have had that responsiblity more than once and know it is a tremendouly difficult task. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring and being there for Susan. She had spoken of you often to me in her emails and phone calls. So many friends of Susan's I had yet to meet but feel we all share the bond of knowing such a brilliant, warm, generous, thoughtful, intellegent, bright, funny and loving friend/ warrior Susan Barnes.

She was an expert wordsmith whom could paint glorious pictures of her beloved Alaska. I am saddened I will never again get an email update on the Alaskan adventures she and the "galz" would have taken with full travel log including photos.

Perhaps I will make a trek to Alaska someday to see the galz and the beauty of Haines if my health permits; pay homage to my friend/ family of choice, Susan aka Alaska.

M'dear Susan, go with dogspeed to join Maggie, be surrounded by boxers kisses and much love. Go now and run with the dogs, romp and play where there is ony lightness and energy. Dogspeed to you m'dear you are missed more than is possible to express. In my heart you are always there .... my friend my family.

Martha Radetsky

I've known Susan since we were in our early/mid twenties.... a thousand or so years ago. I just heard this morning that she is gone. It is difficult news. My friendship with Susan has often been a rocky road and we were in the middle (or so I thought) of a rather rocky stretch. I loved her and I know she knew that, but she also knew I was angry at her, and I'm feeling bad about that. I hold on to stupid, petty things for too long, and before you know it it's too late to say I'm sorry.

Well Susan, I am sorry. Sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me most. And I'm angry that you couldn't find a way to let me know. I thought things were better in Haines.

In our youth, Susan and I would go up to the swings at Alamo Square Park late at night and sing really bad 70's songs (imagine "Billy Don't Be a Hero" at the top of our lungs)while swinging madly. It was fun. I mean REALLY FUN!

I first knew Susan in San Francisco and later visited her in LA (UCLA for her MPH),in The Bronx (med school), and finally last summer in Alaska. It was a strained visit as Susan was working a swing shift and trying to entertain me and she wasn't getting much sleep... but we managed to have fun anyway. She took me whale watching and caving and I got to ride in a float plane.

I am not a dog person, never have been, but I've know Shubert since the first day Susan met her and they were so good together. She loved her other dogs too, of course, but they were really initially there to be company for Shubert. It was so much fun to watch Susan with her girls. So much love. I'm so glad they have found a loving home.

Has anybody told Claudine? A friend from med school? And Claud, if you read this call me. You can google for my number

Minda Armstrong

Remembering Susan.
I have to say, I am stunned by Susan's death. I met her, like so many of us, thanks to the Xenaverse. It was about 10 years ago when she first came to my home to participate in a crazy, pre-San Francisco convention, Xena party. Susan loved the parties.
She always brought something to share and helped in every way possible. I was amazed at her special home-baked “chakram” cookies. How did she ever find the time to make them with her busy schedule? I’ll always remember Susan bringing her infamous Gabrielle-esque "ugly green sports bra Game" to the parties to add to the amusement of all of us. How did she ever convince us to play it? That was Susan, with her charming smile.
I think back to our trip to Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. Cathy has added Susan's picture wearing "Ed the Sock" t-shirt to this site. Well, that occasion was a complete surprise in our vacation plans, to suddenly be in the middle of the Vancouver Gay Pride Parade. Susan was always game for an adventure. Tam drove the sponsor car, Susan & Cathy and I walked behind, handing out bottles of water along the route, with everyone begging Susan to give them her Ed the Sock t-shirt. She almost gave in… the shirt off her back. That was Susan. And later that day, several of us joined Susan in several helpings of the local "summer ice" oysters at Granville Island. (She did love her oysters.) At that point, the “summer ice” oyster was her sweet favorite.
I remember Susan’s excitement getting onto a horse at Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies. (And her equal excitement to get off!) She was so proud that she could do new things like that after her surgery. And of new things, I’m reminded of a wonderful dinner the three of us had in Jasper. Susan loved new experiences and she had never tasted 'grappa' before. We were all stuffed after the big meal and I told Susan that she had to try it, just once ("once in a lifetime") because it's also supposed to be a great digestive. She was skeptical, but so curious she couldn’t pass it up. So we ordered a glass and the three of us shared. I can still remember the face Susan made when she tasted it. "It really DOES taste like turpentine!" And she scrunched up her face, then laughed, and after another sip she coughed, "you get kind of used to it." We all laughed. Then, she thanked me for bringing her a new “first experience", dubious as it was. I felt honored.
Mostly, I remember how in awe she was climbing a glacier and how she wanted to stop for every wild animal and lake sighted from the road, just to observe and marvel at the simple beauty of it all. On one such stop, in the middle of the road, I laughed from the back seat of our car as Cathy and I watched her wrestle with a herd of wild goats, long tamed by other tourists, as they poked their heads in her window, drooling and nudging her, grappling for the bag of treats in her hand. She was absolutely out of control with the giggles and faux-indignation, trying to push the noses back.
This was the part of life that Susan was in love with. This is how I will remember her…always.
You’re in our hearts, Susan.

Dawn Thompson

I am kicking myself now. I had the opportunity to meet Susan when she lived in San Francisco, but our schedules just never seemed to mesh. You always think there will be a later.

We shared many stories of our boxers, and the silliness that accompanies having these wonderful creatures in our lives. We commiserated about rescue, and attempting to be foster homes. Her experience was unsuccessful, and she had to give up fostering, ours was unsuccessful in that our foster came to stay for good.

Such a giving and loving person. I cannot even begin to express how big her heart was. I loved reading her posts about Alaska. It is someplace I have always wanted to go, and my husband and I have been planning a visit in the next year or two, and Susan offered to let us stay with her while we were up there. I was very much looking forward to it.

I read with great interest her post about finding a dog nanny...and spoke to her about it. How I wish an opportunity like that had come my way when I was younger. I would have dropped everything and high tailed it to Alaska.

I didnt know about her love for the Xena show, and the fandom that surrounded it. I wish I had. I myself am not a huge fan of it, but many of my friends are, and I would love to have introduced her to them.

Susan.....I never had the privilege of meeting you in person....but you have made such an impact in my life. I feel such sorrow that you have gone. That I will never get to read of your wonderful adventures...that I have lost someone in my life that cared so much, and gave their friendship completely and totaly, with no holding back, and no strings attached. That is such a rare thing.

I feel that I have failed in friendship to you....I should have written more. I should have asked more questions. I should have listened better. I miss you, my friend.


I am so saddened by Susan's absolutely tragic, yet not surprising,passing. I was partnered with Susan in Medical School. I loved her energy, her wit, her passion and her brilliance. We also had a very unfortunate ending to our relationship. It took years for me to realize that I wanted and needed to create serenity between us, but I was too late. Susan never realized how deeply she impacted others, or that relationships can change and that peace is possible even when there's hurt. I wish the universe would have given Susan the tools for hope and change. That did not happen. I can only continue to grieve the loss of an incredible and troubled spirit. My love to you, Susan.


Susan, Susan,

If you can read my mind, you know that I ‘ m very proud of you.

I’ m a French woman who loved “Xena” for Lucy and Reneé but was often wound by its violences and betrayals. (non mention the end )

And dogs are a mystery for me.

I knew you only by this memorial.
But, in a moment, I saw in you a strong Sister.
I saw a beautiful life like in my books.
You’ re my real romance, Susan.
And my sorrow is that it’ s too late for writing to you.
Too late for cheering you up.
But never too late for admiring you,
You, hurting in so many ways but always loving.
You’ re my hero forever.

Peace, Sister
I love you

John Krenek

I knew Susan for only four months here in Klawock, AK where we shared the duties as after hours care providers at another SEARHC clinic. We grew to know each other fairly well and attended several away seminars together.

Susan was one of the most caring and giving individuals it has been my pleasure to know and would always be there for anyone if needed. She was a superb physician, wonderful person and a friend!!

She will be missed.

Debbie Cauble

Thought of Susan a lot this weekend. I went through my holiday cards from last year to make room for the new ones, and found the lovely photo of Susan and her dogs, and her nice note.


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