At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Never one to put herself first, Sue Buyze lived her life caring for others. Family and friends alike knew that if they needed someone to turn to, for anything, Sue was their person. She was warm and welcoming and she never met a person she disliked. A loving wife, mother and grandmother she will be deeply missed.
In 1951 Americans watched as color television was first broadcast from the Empire State building with a variety show aptly titled “Premiere” and the term “Rock ‘n Roll” was coined. Unemployment was low and optimism was high as the ‘50s were a time of recovery. Spirits were high in the Brown household as well, in anticipation of the arrival of their newest family member. Elizabeth Susan Brown, known to everyone as “Sue” was born on February 25 of that year to her loving parents, Richard and Barbara (Stewart) Brown. The third of eight children, Sue joined brothers Richard and Duane in their Westside home on Butterworth Street. Later, four more sisters, Deborah, Denise, Rebecca, and Joan, and a brother, Craig, would complete the Brown family.
The five girls were especially close and they remained so throughout their lives. Sue was never lacking for playmates and she and her sisters loved playing with the steel wagon their dad made for them. It was so heavy and well-built that it took three of them to operate it – two of them to push and one to pull it! The family attended St. James Catholic Church and School. In addition to being raised in a large family, Richard’s family also lived on Butterworth Street and worked in the gypsum mine. As a result, Sue grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins as well.
In 1969, Sue graduated from Union High School, ready to take on the world. With her first goal in mind – owning her own car – she began working at Kentucky Fried Chicken on Bridge Street. Soon, she was the proud owner of a green ’68 Mustang. Sue and her best friend, Mary, spent many nights driving around and cruising “The Loop” in downtown Grand Rapids.
On a snowy January day in 1971, Duane asked Sue if he could borrow her toboggan as he was meeting up with his friend, Vietnam veteran Fred Buyze to go tobogganing. Sue said that she would allow him to use it with the stipulation that she could tag along. As fate would have it, that decision would change the course of Sue’s life forever! Fred and Sue hit it off immediately and after dating for just nine months, they were happily married on September 18, 1971 at St. James Church. After a Westside reception of family and friends, Sue and Fred enjoyed a honeymoon at Sue’s family’s cottage on Bass Lake. After returning home, the young couple moved into their first, and only, home on Norwood Avenue SE, a place they would call home for the next 51 years.
Sue and Fred settled into married life easily and it wasn’t long before their family grew with the addition of four children; Fred Jr., Steven, Samantha, and Chad. Sue thrived in her role of wife and mother. As a wife, she was loving and supportive and she ran an efficient and organized household. In her role of mother, Sue would do anything for her kids. She was definitely the disciplinarian in the family but her kids never doubted her love for them. They could always count on Mom to be involved, whether volunteering at school or attending their many events, Sue was there for them. Many fond memories were made on family vacations that included annual camping trips to the UP, trips to the cottage at Bass Lake and in 1987, a trip out west in a rented pop-up camper. The trip spanned 5,200 miles and they took in all the area had to offer – Bad Lands, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and more. To make the trip even more memorable, Grandma, Grandpa and Great Grandma were able to join them on their journey.
As a mother, Sue had "the look" that the kids only needed to see to know she meant business. If they heard their mom call their name, while playing in the neighborhood, they knew they needed to come now. Rarely would she ground the kids, knowing it was much more punishment for her than them. Sue always phoned them on their birthday and would sing at the top of her lungs, "You say it's your Birthday!".
One of Sue’s favorite pastimes was searching for agates. She could spend hours walking the beach of Lake Superior and she could spot them when no one else did. For Sue, the thrill was in the discovery – she never did anything more with all of her stones than put them in a box and save them. When not hunting for agates, Sue could also be found in her kitchen, baking cakes and pies or making her famous potato salad. However, nothing was more special than baking during the holidays with her granddaughters. Sue loved being a grandma and she would drop everything to be available for her granddaughters when they needed her. She gladly picked them up from school and watched them almost every day. She enthusiastically attended all of their events and she was so proud of every one of their accomplishments.
An overnight trip to one of the state’s casinos with her mom and sisters was always an adventure! When not gambling in a casino, Sue also found a thrill in doing “scratchers” at home, just waiting to hit it big! In her quieter moments, Sue and Fred could be found sipping a glass of bourbon or Jim Beam and relishing their time together.
A care giver at heart, Sue lovingly cared for her father and mother when they were sick and dying. Her selflessness wasn’t limited to family though; she was that friend that everyone hopes to have. If you needed her, she was there, ready to listen with her warmth and kindness.
Sue Buyze was selfless and kind, and she was able to find the good in everyone. Her absence will be felt by all who loved her but her memory will live on with every Christmas pie we bake, each lottery ticket we scratch and every agate we discover. May her outgoing and caring spirit be an inspiration to us all.
Sue passed away February 28, 2023 at home with her loving family by her side. She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Barbara (Stewart) Brown; and sisters, Rebecca Heeren and Deborah Swartz.. On September 18, 1971, Sue married Fred Buyze. Her husband of 51 years survives as do their children, Fred Buyze Jr., Steven Buyze, Samantha (Christopher) Hekman, Chad (Frances) Buyze; granddaughters, Leah, Lauren, Lindsey and Margaret “Maggie”. She is also survived by her siblings, Richard (Donna) Brown, Duane (Dar) Brown, Denise Heeren, Joan (Harold) Holcom, Craig (Priscilla) Brown; sister-in-law, Patricia Buyze; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A funeral service will be held Monday March 6, 2023 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family on Sunday, from 2-5 PM and beginning at 10 AM on Monday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To read more of Sue’s life story, leave a memory or condolence please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.