Obituary: Susan Dinkle Lindley
Treasured friend, artist, mentor
Susan Dinkle Lindley, 76, died at home in Claremont’s Russian Village on June 20.
Mary Susan Dinkle was born March 1, 1945 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, into a family centered in the arts and service to community.
Her mother, Mary Virginia “Ginny,” was an accomplished actress, gardener and a supervisor of the Federal Arts Project in New Mexico. Her father, Clifford “Tip,” was a renowned swing musician (“Little Roamers”), art collector and benevolent banker.
Growing up, Susan and her older brother Stephen embraced the rich culture, history and natural world of New Mexico. When she left home to attend Scripps College in 1963, she carried along her family’s passion for the arts and compassion for others, as well as deep and abiding connections to the land of enchantment.
Shortly before earning her B.A. from Scripps in 1967, she married Haines Lindley, a graduate of Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna). They divorced amicably in 1973.
She majored in painting and art history, yet as a student of Scripps’ superb humanities program, gained extensive knowledge and perspective, “a grounding, in the wider world and its works,” her family shared.
This education enabled her to both develop herself and her art, and to mentor others in many capacities. Finding her way, she worked variously as a social worker, teacher, printmaker, studio manager, art gallery and museum director, photographer, fundraiser, consultant, and finally, program coordinator of the Graduate Art Department at the Claremont Graduate University. In all of these roles she exemplified her family’s fundamental, overriding characteristics—a life in the arts and consideration for others.
Her professional life is best summed up by these words from Linda Fisher, CGU student:
“I wish to make a special comment on Susan Lindley. As I’ve progressed in the program, the strength of her personal skills continually surfaces. She treats visitors, students and special guests with equal attention and respect. She is intuitive, wise, articulate, knowledgeable and gracious. When small problems arise in the department, her ability to mediate prevents further friction. The present and near future needs of the students are met through her organizational skills. I am grateful to have her influence on my academic career.”
To her myriad friends she was a treasured, fun, aware pal and confidante always ready to share a laugh, story, insight or comforting words. Time after time, she graciously opened her small stone house—“sleeps 15”—when former classmates, colleagues or students were in town.
Staying there was enchanting in so many ways. She artfully planted her garden with a mix of native and historic species, all welcoming to birds and beneficial insects. Through simple materials, hard work and talent, she gradually transformed the interior of this granite boulder, red tile roofed house into a magical geode. With her eye, each room became a cabinet of delights in which the container was as marvelous as the contained. Every visit revealed surprising discoveries.
Her family and beloved cats preceded her in death.
She leaves behind legions of grieving friends, classmates and colleagues.
Once upon a time, she took on the role of “fairy” godmother to two young boys, Xander and Willi Campbell. Very much a part of their lives growing up and now, they will carry her and her family’s values forward.
Memorial contributions may be made to Heifer International at https://www.heifer.org/give/giving-in-honor.html, or by check to 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202.