Cover photo for Susanne (Fusner)  Burton's Obituary
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1939 Susanne 2023

Susanne (Fusner) Burton

December 28, 1939 — December 9, 2023

Athens

Susanne F. Burton passed away peacefully, if not necessarily readily, on Saturday, December 9, 2023, in Athens, Georgia. She was 83. The actual mileage may have been higher.

Susanne was born on December 28, 1939, in Indianapolis, IN. She grew up in Louisville, KY, horse country, a heritage she would carry for her entire life. Following an early elopement right out of high school, Sacred Heart Academy, and a stint in Germany with her new husband compliments of the United States Army, Susanne settled in Lexington, KY and brought two children into the world. As the old saying goes, she wasn’t born in Athens, but she got there as soon as she could. Sometime around 1967, along with her husband at the time, Dr. Thomas A. Burton, two kids, Becca and Jon, and Mandy, the basset hound, she arrived in Athens. She never left. Smart woman.

Always doing things the unconventional way, after having two kids and moving to Athens, she then completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia (’71), and later received her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law (’75). Go (Double) Dawgs!

She initially practiced law in and around Athens, but her legal – and truly life - legacy began when she opened a private practice in the mid 1970’s in Oglethorpe County, initially in Crawford then later in Lexington. For the next 40 plus years Susanne rode, practiced in, and served the many judicial circuits in Northeast Georgia as a lawyer, Special Assistant Attorney General, judge, and impolitic raconteur. Susanne may not have blazed the initial trail for women lawyers, but she absolutely wore a mud hole in the path. Highway 78 between Oglethorpe County and Athens has been paved a thousand times over with the rubber of her car tires. She was the embodiment and spirit of the small-town country lawyer. Susanne was still puttering around with her law practice close to the time of her death. Time just finally ruled against her, despite her arguments to the contrary. She objected, but unfortunately, case closed. Ruling in favor of the Almighty.

Susanne had many loves and passions, but none surpassed her life-long love affair with horses. In 1976 the family was relocated from “in town” living in University Heights on the east side of Athens to a farm in rural southeast Clarke County that would hereafter be referred to simply as “out on Belmont Road.” It was the first time, but not the last time, that the Burton family would be subjugated to the care, feeding, and pursuit of horsemanship. Susanne was an avid dressage rider, but really just liked riding. Period. And rode she did. She remained active with horses up to the death of her last horse, Socks, who died only shortly before her.

During her life Susanne was a member of the Episcopal Church in Athens, Emmanuel Episcopal and later helped found St. Gregory’s Episcopal, where she attended for decades. There, she served faithfully on the Altar Guild, the Vestry, and as Chair of the Outreach Committee.

Susanne was a voracious reader of real books. She usually read three at time: her home book, a waiting for court book, and a spare. She was also a crossword puzzle aficionado, a remarkable piano player, a ruthless card player - perhaps excepting Bridge, a poor gardener but a house plant whisperer, a clothes horse to rival a Royal, and managed to travel a fair piece of the world.  When agitated with you or by you, she worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. She was known to associate with truly terrible sweet wines or the oft rum & Coke. She subscribed to the philosophy of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “never miss a party...good for the nerves – like celery.”

Susanne is survived by two children, daughter Becca (Athens), and Jon (Sandy Springs); one daughter-in-law, Beth (Sandy Springs), and one grandchild, Parr (Sandy Springs); a sister, Helen (Peggy) Keesee (San Antonio), a niece, Sandra Keesee (San Antonio) and nephew, George Keesee (Deanna) (San Antonio).

Susanne was met on the Rainbow Bridge by an abundant menagerie of horses, dogs, and cats – and a few ill-advised birds - that populated the farm and her life.

Susanne also leaves behind more friends, confidants, and conspirators than could possibly be mentioned, let alone accounted for. And some who probably don’t want to be to protect the guilty. She’ll miss you most of all.

A Memorial and Life Celebration Service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on January 20, 2024, at St. Gregory Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Gregory Episcopal Church, or their favorite charity, in Susanne Burton’s name.

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens, GA, is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susanne (Fusner) Burton, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church (Athens)

, Athens, GA

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