Life Story: Dr. Suzanne Schaffer, 93; Long Career In Education

Dr. Suzanne Schaffer passed away peacefully at the age of 93 at her home on June 22 in Somerset.

She is survived by her brother Ira Lomench, sister-in-law Madonna (Donna) Lomench, nieces Jennifer Leon, Melissa Lomench, and 2 grandnephews Ethan Leon and Zachary Leon.

Suzanne was born on March 23, 1927 in the Bronx, NY, and moved with her family to New Jersey in 1935. They went on to move 18 times within a 21 year period that included the towns of North Plainfield, Highland Park, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, and Cranford. She graduated from Scotch Plains High School in 1944 and then from Montclair State University (’48) receiving her B.S. degree in both Social Studies and English. Always motivated with a quest for knowledge, Suzanne would continue on to earn two master’s degrees from New York University (’54) and Queens College (’74). She realized her ultimate goal of earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology (’82). While working on her doctorate, she studied in Melbourne, FL, New York, and Lugano, Switzerland.

Throughout her life she credited her strong work ethic to when she worked as a waitress throughout her time in school. Her professional career included working as a high school teacher in Jackson, Michigan (and later in Cranford, NJ), as Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Jackson County, Michigan, as a guidance counselor in the Williston Park, Long Island school system, and ultimately as a school psychologist for the Bureau of Communication and Educational Services in the City of New York (BOCES). During the time she worked for BOCES, she also maintained a private clinical practice in her home until 2009, where she focused on working with young adults and children.

Throughout her life, she took joy in selflessly giving back to those she knew not only personally but professionally. She had a great ability to connect with anyone she met – immediately making you feel like family no matter if you just met her or if you knew her for years. It could have been offering you a piece of candy, commenting on the grocery store clerk’s manicure, offering some advice, or inviting you over for Thanksgiving dinner. No matter how big or small the occurrence was you always knew that it was coming from her heart. When she performed cognitive testing on young children during her clinical practice at home, after receiving permission from their parents she would often end each appointment with a visit to the local ice cream store as a treat after a long session. Throughout her life Suzanne was also a charitable person who regularly contributed to and strongly believed in supporting The Seeing Eye Foundation and St. Jude.
In her spare time, Suzanne traveled extensively around the world visiting such countries as Japan, New Zealand, Italy and Denmark. She loved taking the train with friends into New York City to attend performances at the Metropolitan Opera as well as Broadway plays and musicals. She was an avid reader – often loaning her books out to friends and family.

While she had no children of her own, Suzy (the name both nieces affectionately called her) played an important role in raising Jennifer and Melissa. From an early age, they would spend many summers at her home where they would often visit the community pool in Great Neck, NY spending hours swimming together. As her nieces grew older, they would spend many weekends at her home in Port Washington, NY until she moved nearer to them in NJ in 2009. She was an enormous influence on their lives – teaching them etiquette, helping them with high school and college essays, and then eventually advising them on how to deal with various people and difficult situations at their workplaces. Her advice was sought after not only by them, but also, by most of her friends and colleagues throughout her professional career. It also cannot go without saying how much she loved the dogs she cared for in her life including Koko, Gigi, and Sophie.

Although she is no longer with us please keep her voice in your head, and her memory in your hearts. A memorial service is to be decided later on this summer.

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