Susan Lynne O'Donnell O'Toole
September 22, 1945 – July 25, 2020
Susan Lynne O’Donnell O’Toole died peacefully on July 25 at the age of 74 in New York City. She is survived by her three children, Margaret (Margey) O’Toole Rogers, Charles (Chip) O’Toole and Lacy O’Toole, her two sons-in law Curtis Rogers and David Wagner and the centerpiece of her life, her six grandchildren, Parker, Charles (Charlie), Elijah, Jade, Lillian and Dexter.
Born on September 22, 1945 in Baltimore, Maryland, Susan was the second of five daughters born to Dr. Charles Francis and Helen Smith O’Donnell. After attending Notre Dame Prep for grades 1-12, Susan studied nursing at St. Joe’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She then went on to receive her BSN at Georgetown and her Master’s in Maternal and Child Health at the University of North Carolina. There she learned she bled Carolina Blue and, upon encountering any nurse or doctor for the duration of her life, she would immediately ask where they went to school and if the answer was Duke, she’d apologize for their mistake. A lifelong student, Susan went back to school while her children were little and received her MPH from Johns Hopkins University.
She devoted her life to her children and their children. Nothing made her happier than the time she was able to spend with them. Ahni, as they call her, was synonymous with surprises, silliness and love. Over the years, she was able to spend time with each of her children as their families grew, splitting her days between Alaska, Florida and New York City; stopping home only long enough to repack her suitcase.
Susan was generous, offering you the shirt off her back or the meal in front of her if you complimented it. She loved the joy of Christmas and believed Christmas songs should be played year round. She welcomed those without a place to go into her home and her heart. She was a second mother to many of her children’s friends and an open heart for those who needed a place to land. And you knew Susan loved you if she made you her chocolate chip cookies. Nothing delighted her more than holding babies and crocheting baby blankets for her children’s friends. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Susan knew life was worth fighting for and put her all into every day.
To many, she was known as a nurse with an eclectic career, leaving so many to benefit from her knowledge and her care. Susan combined her love of nursing with her love of adventure; serving as a school nurse on the US Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba in the early 70s; as the police precinct nurse in Baltimore County, Maryland in the 80s and the Regional Public Health Preparedness Nurse for the Interior Region of Alaska in the 00s. In between, she practiced pediatric nursing at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Towson, Maryland; was the Adrenoleukodystrophy Coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; served as the Director of Nursing at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and was a leader on the Nursing Informatics team at GBMC...when hospitals first joined the digital age. She also spent a few years at GBMC overseeing cancer prevention trials, focusing on raising cancer awareness and enrolling patients in potentially life-saving studies.
In lieu of flowers, her children ask that you memorialize their mother by holding your loved ones close, remembering why today is called the present and never passing up on an adventure...the dishes and laundry can wait.