Susan Dayl Skees Vaughan, age 68, passed away on August 24, 2023 in Parker, Colorado. She was surrounded by her family who lived locally and those that made the trip from California, Wisconsin, Utah, and Texas to be with her during her last days.
Sue was born in Ely, Nevada in 1955, the same year Disneyland opened, and she passed her love of all things Disney on to her children and grandchildren. Sue was born to Walter and Neva Dayl Winfrey (Papa and Mimi) and is survived by her brother, Mike; her sister, Sandy and Sandy’s husband, Richard; her daughters, Stephanie and Katrina; her son, Josh and his wife, Alex; her stepson, Ryan and his wife, Mandy; her stepson, Jermey; her grandchildren, Lewis, Aria, and Fallon; her niece, Kristin; her nephew, Lee and his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Wren; her husband, Frank; and many other friends and family members who will miss her dearly.
Sue grew up all over the country, the family following Papa’s job with Shell Oil to a new town every two years. She was the youngest of three children and she had a joy and thirst for life from an early age. Growing up, the family took many vacations backpacking in the mountains of California, Colorado, and New Mexico. Sue was a tireless hiker and often wore her parents out. She even took her one-year-old daughter, Stephanie, on a backpacking trip in New Mexico and they had to carry all the diapers by mule! Throughout her life she enjoyed taking long hikes and walks with family and friends.
As a young woman, Sue settled in Texas where she married Bill Skees and had her first daughter, Stephanie. Sue and Bill divorced but maintained an amicable relationship throughout her life. Sue and Stephanie moved to California where Sue raised Stephanie as a single mom while working two jobs and putting herself through undergrad and graduate school at Fresno State. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in social welfare and a Master’s Degree in vocational rehabilitation. These were amazing accomplishments considering the challenges she faced, and a time that forged a special relationship between Sue and Stephanie.
Sue and Stephanie moved to Bakersfield, California where Sue married Frank Vaughan, welcomed two stepsons into her life, Jermey and Ryan, and had two more children, Josh and Katrina. Sue raised her children in Bakersfield all the while embracing her entrepreneurial spirit by starting and running two successful businesses. Ultimately, she moved into the public service sector, taking a job at Taft College where she taught and helped run the Transition to Independent Living Program for adult students with disabilities. After retiring in 2018, Sue moved to Castle Rock, Colorado where she spent time with her grandchildren, tutored autistic children, and took up quilting as a serious hobby.
What started out as a “Mom’s Weekend Out” with her sister, Sandy, in the 1990’s fostered a life-long love of playing poker. Sue and Sandy played in many different locations in California, Nevada (Vegas being an almost yearly sojourn and sometimes including the rest of the family – Josh’s 21st birthday being a particularly memorable and fun one!), and Colorado. Their last poker game was just the two of them, while Sandy was visiting Sue in the hospital in July where they played with quarters. For years, Sue and Sandy would go Christmas shopping together. In 2017, the Christmas trip was to London. In addition to shopping, they visited The Harry Potter Exhibition, had high tea at Harrods, and stayed in the Chambers Suites at the St. Pancras Hotel. The following year, the shopping trip was to New York City and included visiting the 9-11 Memorial (twice), an Andre Bocelli concert at Madison Square Gardens, and a clear day view from the Empire State Building.
Sue also spent many summers in Wisconsin visiting Mimi, her brother, Mike, and the family farm. She loved picking wild berries and vegetables and eating tomatoes off the vine. The summer when Sue and Mimi taught Stephanie and Katrina how to turn those berries and fresh picked beans into homemade jam and pickled green beans will always be cherished memories. One of Sue’s other favorites was when Mike would hunt for wild mushrooms and sauté them up to eat right out of the pan. She also loved working at the farmer’s market with Mike and Mimi selling vegetables, jams, and Mike’s maple syrup. Sue made her last trip to the farm in the summer of 2022. Although not always feeling well, she managed to pick and eat several pounds of fresh tomatoes every day.
Sue was a remarkably kind and generous woman who would do anything for the people she loved. She touched the lives of the people she encountered in big ways and small. She passed her strength, resilience, and intrinsic work ethic onto her children. She always had time to listen when someone had a problem or needed a sounding board. Sue loved taking long walks and from the time Stephanie was in fifth grade, one of their favorite ways to spend time together was taking three-to-five-mile walks around the neighborhood or through the nearby fields of Bakersfield. Whether it was working through a conflict or sharing a laugh, it always brought them closer together.
Sue was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in July 2020. She battled cancer and other health and personal problems with a positive attitude and an amazing sense of humor. She did not let cancer take the joy out of her life or diminish her desire to continue living life to the fullest.
A celebration of Sue’s life will be held at our family farm in Wisconsin on October 28, 2023. A virtual option will be available if you cannot attend in person. Please reach out to Josh, Stephanie, Sandy, or Mike for additional details. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation or to Smart Recovery.