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Susan Harkins was an exceptional volunteer and friend of Laurier
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WATERLOO — Susan Harkins, a noted local philanthropist and wife of former Laurier history professor Jim Harkins, died March 16. She was 69.
Born Susan Steingass in Cleveland, Ohio, Susan married Jim Harkins in 1961.
History professor Joyce Lorimer said she got to know Susan and Jim as soon as she arrived at Laurier in 1973, shortly before Jim became chair of the history department. “The Fukes (history professor Richard Fuke and his family) and the Lorimers (Joyce and Doug) were new to the community and Susan and Jim were extraordinarily kind to us. We forged a close and lasting friendship between the three families. Susan hosted wonderful parties for the history department faculty," Joyce Lorimer recalled.
“She was the centre of our social life,” Lorimer added. “Christmases were always resplendent. Between Christmas and New Year’s, she would host a wonderful evening buffet. She was a gourmet cook."
“As long as I knew her, she was a volunteer in the community,” said Lorimer, who worked with her on the board of Anselma House. Harkins’ other volunteer activities covered a broad spectrum of local agencies: the Community Information Centre, Catholic Family Counselling Centre, Social Planning Centre, Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, the K-W Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Stratford Festival, Planned Parenthood, United Way, the K-W Community Foundation, and the K-W Symphony.
In 1992, Harkins was named citizen of the year by the K-W Jaycees.
The Harkins family have always been significant donors to Laurier, including supporting two student scholarships for the history department.
Lorimer remembers Harkins as “wonderful, generous and bright. She had a great intellect. I feel like there’s a great hole in my life.”
Harkins is survived by her husband, Jim, three children and five grandchildren.
Visitation will be at the Erb & Good Funeral Home, 171 King St. S. Waterloo, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21. A memorial service will be held in the funeral home chapel on Thursday, March 22, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow.