Sue Leota Harris
On Sunday June 5, 2016, Sue Leota Harris passed away at her home in Santa Barbara CA, family by her side. She was 82 years old.
Warm, loving, creative, funny and fearless are good words to describe Sue. Her open spirit allowed her to explore both the interior world, through her artworks and writing, and the exterior world, through her travels and relationships. She embraced all of life with an open heart and mind.
A tall, statuesque redhead, Sue came into this life on August 14, 1933, living in Nebraska before her family moved to California, when she was small.
Sue was an artist and an explorer all her life. Her home was filled with treasures found from “junking” —- searching thrift shops and swap meets for that one spectacular find. Stories abound about her discoveries –- the “fake” gold cigarette case that was actually 18 karat gold, the “imitation” diamond, ruby, and emerald necklace that turned out to be real — nothing escaped her collector’s eye. If there was a hidden treasure among the trash, Sue would find it.
Her home was also filled with the paintings, assemblages, and especially the collages that she created. Some were whimsical, others evocative, all were beautiful in that unique and quirky way that was Sue. Her exhibitions at the Faulkner gallery, Westmont College, and others showcased her prodigious talent. And her skills allowed her to transform the practical world too -— a beautiful faux-finished dresser, collaged cabinet doors and storage boxes, even a brightly collaged cane, which she used for walking. Sue was about adding beauty to life.
Her free spirit led her to explore the outside world too, through visits to Cape Cod to experience “Cape light”, road trips to New Mexico and Sedona, Arizona, even driving down to Oaxaca, Mexico for an extended stay, after which she drove back to California, solo, at 54 years old. Sue did not recognize obstacles, only outcomes.
She lived for many years with Parkinson’s disease, and was recently diagnosed with dementia, and the renal cancer which ultimately claimed her, yet she accepted these changes with serenity and grace. It was “part of life”; she held no grudges.
Her love was family. Sue was Mom to Scott (wife Shanell), Kriss (wife Yvette), and Carl (wife Barbara). She was Gramma to Zach (wife Jennifer), Seth (wife Heather), and Alexiss (husband Jeremy), “GG” to Tommy, Jaxon, Frankie, Donovan, Claire, Jett, and Juliette, sister to her beloved brother Paul, who preceded her in this life, sister to Jack and Dave, companion to her sweet pooch Portia. She was a loving friend to Janet, Nancy, Michelle, Nan, Jane, Tim and others too numerous to mention.
If you have created something beautiful, made someone laugh, cooked a delicious meal, forged into the unknown, or kissed a loved one, you’ve known a little part of Sue.
Her open spirit inspired all who knew her, and now she is free – a yellow bird, flying high in the sky.
We will miss you Sue! We love you, and we always will.
The family would like to thank Assisted Hospice and all her wonderful caregivers.