Susan Elizabeth Shank

Date of Birth

December 23, 1938

Date of Death

January 5, 2020

Susan loved: Learning, sports, and visiting new places. Being outdoors in the sun and near the ocean. Playing bridge and talking politics.

Her post-retirement business card read: world traveler, bridge player, financial advisor. Susan Elizabeth Shank, daughter of Donald Jay and Ruth Rabe Shank, grew up in Scarsdale, NY. She loved to travel. Her first trip was with her Girl Scout troop “The Ten Troopers,”—a summer tour of Europe where her troop met with other scouting groups.

Travel became a life-long passion.

Her father was involved in education and politics, and their close relationship inspired Susan to be curious, study hard, and be passionate about making a positive impact on the world. He shared his love of the ocean with his children, and they have passed it on.

Susan was exceptionally proud of her “baby brother,” Dr. Peter Rabe Shank, Professor Emeritus of Medical Science at Brown University, and loved to brag about him and his achievements.

Susan attended Cornell University’s College of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she graduated in 1960. She remained lifelong friends with Alpha Phi sorority sisters Jane (Finnegan) Kocmoud and Kay (Sullivan) Abrams. She was a dedicated career civil servant who worked for the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics starting in the Kennedy administration in DC, moving to the San Francisco regional office for many years, and then back to DC until her retirement in 1994.

She kicked off her retirement with a round-the-world trip with both her daughters, and never wanted to stop! She continued to travel into her mid-seventies. Among her favorite destinations were Turkey, Australia, and the Mayan ruins of Central America.

She loved to research each adventure, and often financed trips for her traveling companions.

Susan was active in civil rights, social justice, and feminism throughout her life. In the early days of the Kennedy administration, she volunteered to travel on weekends to small cities in the South, meeting with local community action agencies to prepare contracts funding some of the first Head Start programs providing pre-school education for poor children. In later years, she volunteered to teach reading to underprivileged kids in DC, worked on the Santa Barbara Civil Grand Jury, and served as the co-President of the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara.

Susan married Kenneth Clay Holland Sr. in 1963. Together they raised two daughters (Jennifer and Sherry Holland) and her stepson Ken Jr. (Fritz).

Susan lived her final years on the Mesa in Santa Barbara, CA, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. She enjoyed many walks along the bluffs of the Douglas Family Preserve with friends, family, neighbors, and her sheltie, Melbourne.
She was a fan of most sports. She played tennis in her younger days, and was an active spectator throughout her life. Susan was proud to have traveled the world to attend all four Grand Slam tournaments. Just last March, Susan and Jane Kocmoud attended the finals of the BNP Paribas Open tournament near Palm Springs. She also loved both men’s and women’s basketball, and attended many LA Sparks games.

Susan was known as an exceptionally strong and independent woman who lived life on her terms. She will be remembered as a loyal and generous friend, fierce supporter of women’s rights and social justice, lover of the ocean, the sun on her face, adventure, and her family.

She is survived by her daughters Jennifer and Sherry Holland and their families, her stepson Ken Jr., her brother Peter (Kathy) Shank, her nephew Jonathan (Paige) Shank, and their boys Dylan and Benji. Also, her cousin Kim (Stephanie) Liotta-Atkinson, their girls Quinn and Annika, and an extended family who gathered for Rabe family reunions at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her circle of friends included Ken and Mara Holland, Jane Kocmoud, Diane Rivera, Jan Porter, Kay Coats, Lois Orr, Jane Benefield, Sabine French, Allyson Jones, Barbara Tennison, Austin and Suzanne Cohen. She was predeceased by her nephew, Jeffrey Shank. Susan’s daughters are grateful to Annie, Minnie and a host of other caregivers who allowed her to stay at home until the end, and treated her with compassion, kindness, and respect.

The family is planning a celebration of life at a later date.

In lieu of flowers please consider a gift to one of the causes Susan supported: LWVSB
The Jeffrey Shank ’02 Endowed Scholarship at the Moses Brown School The Peter Rabe Shank, Ph.D. Medical Scholarship (established by Susan in honor of her brother) Das Williams’ reelection campaign


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