Susan M. Echelberry

February 9, 1943February 1, 2019

I just want to say “See you later” to all of my family and friends. I left your world peacefully from home on Friday, February 1, 2019. Joseph was by my side. (More about him later.) I will always love and remember all of you, as I hope you will me.

I was born on February 9, 1943 to Mary and Frank Materne in Albany, CA. For most of my life, I was known as “Susan”, to distinguish me from my dear mother. I have an older half-brother, Robert Materne, wife Jeannie, and their children and grand-children. I grew up in what is now El Sobrante, CA. I was very active in the local Presbyterian Church where I played the organ for services. I always loved music and continued to play the piano for years as it brought me great pleasure. I was in the first graduating class from DeAnza High School in Richmond, CA.

I began my nursing education at the University of San Francisco, but it was interrupted in 1960 when my first husband, Orin Keplinger, III, who was in the U.S. Army, was assigned to a base in Germany. We lived there for three years and our son, Orin IV, was born there. His early life was spent playing with German children and Deutsch sprechen. We all came back to the U.S. in 1963 and Orin III was assigned to Fort Lewis near Seattle. I finished my nursing education at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. This is a wonderful university and I received an outstanding education. I graduated with my bachelor of science in nursing, Cum Laude, in 1968. In November, 2018, I attended the 50th reunion of my graduating class and was inducted into the Golden Age Alumni Association. It brought back so many memories of good times.

Orin III and I divorced, and Orin IV and I moved back to the Bay Area. I enrolled in the University of California San Francisco and earned my master’s degree in psychology. I was hired as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Marin General Hospital in 1973 by Jeanine Gisvold, who became my dear friend. I guess I did OK, because I worked there over thirty years, and the last thirteen years I was the Vice President of Patient Care. I was proud of my accomplishments and hope I contributed in some small way to the betterment of nursing and patient care.

While working at MGH, I met Paul Davis and we lived together for a number of years, along with his step-son Scott Davis and Orin IV. We loved spending vacations skiing and camping with them and Scott’s sister, Nannet. Paul and I never married and eventually we went our separate ways. Scott, however, has stayed in my live all these years and has been like a son to me.

After MGH, I worked as a nursing consultant with Catalyst Systems, a nationwide and very highly respected firm, headquartered right there in Novato. In my final two working years, I was a nurse with Hospice by the Bay. I retired fulltime in 2010.

But going back to MGH, in 1982 a new guy came to work in Human Resources named Joseph Echelberry, and the rest, as they say, is history. I loved him at first sight. We have been together for almost 37 years, and always will be in each other’s heart and soul. We loved each other so much we decided to make it official and wed on June 27, 1992. It was the happiest day of my life. We had a wonderful life together with many more good times than bad times, enjoyed many wonderful trips, and shared many cherished memories. My family also includes Orin IV’s children, my grandchildren, Dashiel and Tulah Keplinger; my dear aunt Nancy Laverty and her children, Patricia, Annamarie, and Michael, and my cousin Kay.

I hope you can join us on Saturday, February 9, 2019 (my 76th Birthday) at Hilltop 1892 Restaurant, 850 Lamont Ave. in Novato from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and share your memories of me, and celebrate with my other family and friends. Come casual and have a good time.

If you would like to remember me with a contribution, please consider Pacific Lutheran University ( or Hospice by the Bay ( Thank you.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Susan M. Echelberry

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