Susan Merri Osborn Densmore | Passages

Susan Merri Osborn Densmore [2/26/50 — 3/14/24] between those brackets so much life so many adventures, so much gratitude.

In the hospital, Susan asked me to buy a set of thank-you cards. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the strength to more than look at the graphic on the box and approve it (a blue feather).

So I thought I would tease out from my faulty memory a few names that stood at various crossroads in Susan’s life and thank them myself as I believe she would have liked to. (I told Susan — you can’t die now that we can finally end a sentence with a preposition.)

So, primary thanks and a gold ribbon for creating Susan goes to Dr. Don Olin Osborn and Ora Ilene Clark. Who threw a parade the first time I visited Austin Minnesota, ‘Home of Spam’. Just the four of us marching around the condo with silly hats and scarves pulled from their closet. And please pay honor to her first teachers, torturers and fans, sister Joel, brothers Michael and John.

To the gang of Austin girls who still meet for lunch on Zoom.

To Mel Kreb who was the only one in the Missouri commune with any survival skills. Who shot and stewed up the goat that destroyed their cabin.

Mark Daniellson, for being her starter husband. Who thought Susan would lead the revolution and told her parents so while guzzling a bottle of whiskey on their couch. A brilliant and tragic tale as so many are.

Dar and Boyd Bristow for discovering Susan waiting tables in Iowa and folding her into Blueberry Buckle, Boyd’s rock and roll country band, writing ‘You have stolen my heart away darlin” and bringing her into their family and the fabulous family of South Dakota musicians.

Marilyn Castilaw, grand niece of Lawrence Welk, and songwriter, ‘Run With an Arrow in Your Heart’ and Colleen Williams writer of ‘Lay Down Your Burden’, for forming the girl group of free singers that got her out of rock and roll – ‘Garden’. The same Garden that’s in the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame. Ha.

Paul Winter for bringing her to New York and the world and the Living Music family. His first collaboration with a singer, Paul recognized that the sound of her voice could forge an audience into a community. He plucked her out of Spink SD to work on ‘Common Ground’ and ‘The Earthmass’. And through Paul she became charmed into personal engagement with Dean Jim and Pam Morton of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. And at Omega Institute being tricked into a life of teaching and ultimately loving many of you.

Fritz and Vivienne Hull who brought The Earth Mass to Seattle and maintained the threads that brought Susan to the Northwest and eventually to Orcas. The Earth Mass was seen by Star and Louis owners of the Outlook Inn who brought Susan to Orcas the week after we met at Woodstock. OK, outside of Woodstock and a decade late but thanks to Nancy Rumble musician extraordinaire.

Arrigato to Reiko Yukawa who introduced Elvis and the Beatles in Japan as a young DJ for opening up Japan to Susan. The web starts here. Though really from Shin Terriyama who cured himself of cancer by escaping to the hospital roof at five every morning to listen to the birds and breathe. Went on to play the Cello and came to Orcas to visit the healing arts center. He encouraged us to come to Japan and Reiko owed him a favor. So really to April Perkinson who taught the Japanese to speak English with a southern accent and directed Shin to us. To Masato Ushijima who produced ‘Wabi’ which received a Japanese grammy. And the chain goes on and on and on. Jun Sato the tip of the spear, Angeles Arrien, Odetta, Baba Olatunji, Gioia Timpanelli, Bill Lauf, trusted on so many recordings, Harvey, Ethan; Betty Buckley sang at our wedding Paul Halley played piano. Listen to ‘Pianosong’ on the tideline album on the website. The amazing PH.

Olay, this list could go on. To save time, that’s the only reason you are not listed here. You should be.

But mention must be made. To Penny Sharp and Donna Laslo who both tried to manage the unmanageable. Then both came to settle on Orcas to find their lives and create their own beauty. Penny with the Opal housing, Healing Arts Building and arts in the schools, plus transforming earth into mugs and bowls. And Donna with a film festival or two and a never-ending magic show. Come on people. Presents!!!! presents, Presents!!!

To Mimi Anderson and Steve Diepenbrock who came to help with a summer music village and stayed as community, neighbors, family, caring for that land, Morning Star Farm, and Susan and I for thirty some years, right up to the very, very end.

To so many in the Orcas Community who made a safe resting place to return to after 52 exhausting exhilarating trips to Japan and 26 recordings. You know who you are.

And arriving in the last year was her zoom poetry group and her substack memoir and Momo to assist with the landing.

To Jim Bredouw who generously opened his studio and lent his expertise to a number of those recordings. For a while there I’m sure he thought he had built this magical musical eyrie for Susan. The musicians were in awe looking out through glass walls off the mountain towards the sound.

The musicians were in awe soaring through glass walls towards the sound.

through glass walls towards the sound.

Towards the sound.

In awe.

– David Densmore