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Remembering the one and the only Susan Kastner

David Sherman

To know her was to love her, though her intelligence and sense of humour towered over her tiny frame, even with the shock of curly hair.


Susan Kastner — who died peacefully at home on Friday — was a wonder, from the first time we met over a dinner that only her presence made memorable to a library of emails on projects we shared, or people who deserved laceration or their opposites, friends and colleagues who required accolades.


And regardless of their intent, Susan made you laugh. Woody Guthrie called his guitar a fascist slayer. For Susan, it was a keyboard and if one could measure such things, Ms Kastner drew more blood and did it with more ribaldry.


Susan was about encouragement, applause, gratitude, curiosity and wringing life from every moment. There was no room in her library for faithlessness or self-doubt. In Susan’s book, you could do it.


She lived a million miles away in Toronto but life seemed limitless and obstacles to get together seemed endless. And besides there was always tomorrow.


But, of course, we all run out of tomorrows. Susan’s were stolen cruelly and prematurely by a merciless disease that destroyed her in bits and pieces but she didn’t let it rob her of her wit, sagacity, her impatience and anger with the hard right turn the world was making.


Down to typing with only a single thumb, the notes kept coming, fewer words, more emojis, always gilded with hearts. And that thumb sent out buckets of encouragement.


I sent her tales of daily nonsense, links to songs, and dragged my guitar on my last visit and sang her songs. The first time we met, it was to discuss a book project and then for her to meet some friends at a show I gave at a little café.


The last time I saw her was to sing her some songs. Everything had become difficult for her, but she could still listen. And had enough dwindling strength to applaud.


Sometime between the two concerts, we decided we were brother and sister from different parents. My brother Guy became hers, my partner Reisa was as good as sister-in-law as she’d find and my friends who were lucky enough to meet via email and her writings in our flippant blog, “You’re Going to Die. Live With It,“ became her friends.


She was sprinkled with fairy dust and a few of us were lucky to be touched by it.





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judit kenyeres
judit kenyeres
Dec 02, 2023

May her memory be for a blessing.

I too send my sympathies to all who knew and loved her.

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I very much liked the way Susan described herself in “Trenchant tales of sexism, survival et moi,” her essay in the compendium Fish Wrapped: True Confessions from Newsrooms Past:


Susan Kastner has been a journalist, biographer, TV host, jingle composer, and 9-song 3-chord folksinger in a career that spanned quite a few countries, continents and marriages. Please don’t ask her to remember how many.


However many there were (well, except for the marriages), the world didn’t get enough Susan and it is a far more impoverished place today. You have to ask yourself: What was a sweetheart like her doing in a dump like this in the first place? Primarily, just making it a lot more fun for everyone (well,…

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Jim Withers
Jim Withers
Nov 28, 2023

Beautiful tribute, David. Condolences to all who knew and loved Susan. Unfortunately for me, I only got to know her through this blog, but even that was enough for me to know that she was a remarkable person.

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