Susan Leigh French passed away January 19, 2013 at Baylor Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas, from complications resulting from bone marrow cancer. She had been valiantly fighting Myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia, since the time it was diagnosed in February of 2012. Susan was a very happy and optimistic person. She greatly enjoyed music, had a beautiful voice and she loved to sing and dance. People relished being with her because she was always upbeat and so very much fun. She taught her family and friends a lot about courage, strength and grace. She was an inspiration to all who knew her and will be remembered for her loving kindness and her most contagious and heartwarming laugh. Susan was a writer, gifted speaker and she enjoyed traveling, reading, gardening, cooking and spending time with family and friends. Susan was a strong Christian. All in heaven are rejoicing to have her there.
Susan was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on August 5, 1958. She was the daughter of Ed French, of Guthrie, Oklahoma, and the late Marilyn S. French, and she grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma. Susan received her BBA, summa cum laude, from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1985. She began her career as a legal secretary with the law firm of Baker, Baker, Wilson, Selph and Ford in 1978, later accepting a position at Fellers, Snider, Blankenship, Bailey & Tippens on April 1, 1980, when Harry Selph joined the firm. During the next 33 years at Fellers Snider, Susan served as a legal secretary, a paralegal and later as Director of Administration, a position she held since 1997. Susan’s remarkable life was one of an outstanding, tireless work ethic, a desire for excellence, integrity in every area of her life, a heart for people and a desire to serve others. She was highly esteemed in her profession and by those with whom and for whom she worked.
She was a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants from 1992-1997, and the Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants (COALA) from 1986-1997. She served as President of COALA in 1991, was on their Executive Board from 1989-1992 and also served as Chairperson of their Public Relations Committee as well as Membership, Placement and Education Committees. She served on the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Legal Assistant Committee in 1992-1993 and in 1994 was named Legal Assistant of the Year by COALA. When Susan became Director of Administration at Fellers Snider in 1997, she became active in the Oklahoma City Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) where she has been a member since 1998. She served the Oklahoma City Chapter as their President from 2001-2003, Vice President, 2000-2001, Secretary, 1999-2000 and Community Challenge Weekend Co-Chairperson in 2003. Through her involvement and leadership in ALA, Susan volunteered and/or organized to raise funds for projects for schools, Alley’s House, Christmas Connection, Pauline E. Mayer Shelter, Infant Crisis Center, Positive Tomorrows, Suited for Success, and Whiz Kids to name a few. She also organized the donation, assembly and transporting of office furnishings by Oklahoma City law firms to a law firm in New Orleans when they sustained catastrophic damage due to Hurricane Katrina.
Susan went on to become very active as a volunteer leader at the regional, national and international levels of the Association of Legal Administrators serving the 10,000 member organization (with members from 23 countries) whose members are involved in the management of private law firms, corporate legal departments and governmental agencies. She served with distinction as a member of the ALA International Board of Directors, representing all members and chapters in ALA’s Region 4, which covers a seven state area from Utah on the west to Louisiana and Arkansas on the east, and including both Oklahoma and Texas. In late 2007, Susan was named President-Elect of ALA and served in that position in 2008-2009; succeeded to the Presidency of ALA in 2009-2010 and served her final year on the Board of Directors and as Past-President in 2010-2011. Susan was Chairperson of the ALA International Relations Committee from 2010-2012, was the Region 4 Management Team Communications Officer, its Education Officer and was chosen to be one of a 12 member Legal Management and Administration Delegation that traveled to The Peoples Republic of China in 2007. As President, Susan traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the Orient representing the ALA and serving as a legal ambassador providing education on legal management topics. She became a popular and sought-after speaker at ALA chapter events across the country, was a key speaker at ALA’s annual Chapter Leadership Institute and at the Association’s annual meetings. Susan said that her service to ALA was very meaningful to her. She said it also had the added benefit of increasing her network of friends and colleagues worldwide, many of whom became her very dear friends.
Susan was a member of Fortune Cookies, LLC, an investment club formed in 1998; the Oklahoma Rose Society, where she was a member from 1998-2005, Secretary, 1999-2002 and later Vice President, 2002-2003; a Ballet Oklahoma Associate Board Member from 1991-1994; and a member of the Second Sight book club. In May of 2012, Susan completed Leadership Oklahoma City Class 30. She was a loyal member of Crossings Community Church.
Susan served as an advisory board member of the Rose State College Paralegal Program since 2000 and was currently serving on the board of the Good Samaritan Health Clinic of Edmond. She also served on the YWCA of Oklahoma City Human Resources Advisory Committee. Susan was named a recipient of the 2010 Leadership in Law award by The Journal Record, which recognizes individuals who exercise leadership, contribute significant time and effort to volunteerism and have achieved much in their chosen area of the legal profession.
Susan was preceded in death by her mother, Marilyn S. French. She is survived by her father and stepmother, Ed and Bobbie French, her brother David French and his wife, Angela, and their children, David, Lauren and Alexandra, her brother Tyler French and his wife, Cheryl, and their daughter, Cooper, her sister Melissa French Emery and her husband, Jared, stepdaughters from former husband Patrick C. Koran, Christina Koran Johnson and Natalie Koran Hamm, grandchildren, Diana Marie Johnson, Victoria Marie Johnson and Percy Garfield Johnson III and stepbrother Stacy Phillips and his wife, Marion.
Susan’s memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, January 25, 2013, in the Chapel at the Crossings Community Church, 14600 N. Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Services are under the direction of Smith-Gallo Funeral Home, Guthrie. Visitation will be held Thursday at Smith-Gallo Funeral Home from 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. and Friday at Crossings Community Church from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to: Baylor BMT Research Fund, 3410 Worth Street, Suite 570, Dallas, TX 75246, the Foundation of Association of Legal Administrators, Attn: Leslie Bowles, 75 Tri-State International, Suite 222, Lincolnshire, IL 60069, or Good Samaritan Health Clinic of Edmond, Inc., c/o Deacon Lee Hunt, 9 N.W. 160th Street, Edmond, OK 73013.