Susan Seltzer: Patroness, Partner, Spirit


Susan Seltzer in her office at Met Life

On this day in 1990 at 2:13 am., Susan Seltzer passed away. She was thirty-three years old. Two and-a-half years earlier, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. After six weeks of radiation therapy, and then six months of chemo therapy, she lost her battle with cancer, and took her last breath while holding my hand.

    Susan Seltzer was born in Yonkers, New York to Evelyn and Herman Seltzer. The family soon moved to New City, New York, where she went to high school. Susan attended Union College in upstate New York, and then transferred her credits at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where her classes were conducted in Hebrew, in which she was fluent. Her father was a V.P. at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and enabled her to have her first job as a Systems Programmer. Herman Seltzer was quite successful in his own right as an originator of the first IBM Mainframe computer, which is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Susan inherited her father's genius, serving as programmer for hundreds of users at Met Life. Soon she was offered a job at Morgan Guaranty Trust on Wall Street, where she continued in her role as Systems Programmer. While at Morgan, she had to wear a beeper because the bank would loose millions of dollars per minute when the system crashed. It is my belief that the stress of this job contributed to her premature death.

Susan in the NYC Pride Parade holding a sign with the Hebrew word for Lesbian

For those of you who have read my memoir (Practicing for Love: A Memoir, (c) 2020, RoseDog Books), you already know that Susan Seltzer made it possible for me to live in New York City. We met at the New England Women's Music Retreat (NEWMR), during the Labor Day weekend of my second year at Juilliard. She was very impressed that I was studying at Juilliard, and she made it possible for me to focus on my studies without having to worry about making a living. I am eternally grateful to her for that. She also fully computerized me, thus making it possible for me to send out personalized letters to conductors, concert artist managers, and music festivals.

With Susan and her parents after my Juilliard master's recital

    On this night I am honoring her memory with a lovely bottle of red wine, French baguette, and cheese. I am remembering our train ride on the Orient Express from Paris to Vienna, on which we sat together in our bunk bed eating baguette and cheese, and sharing a fabulous, unbelievably cheap bottle of French wine. In Paris I had performed at the American Embassy, and a lavish reception was held in my honor. She shared that memory with me, along with several other wonderful memories of concerts and receptions.

At Club Med in Martinique

    Rest well, Susan. Your sister Amy and I miss you terribly.


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