Susan’s younger sister, Linda, recited this letter and answered questions live via Facetime during Convention 2017:
Congratulations on OPA’s 50th anniversary and to the recipients of the Susan Terzian Award, past and present. You are all undoubtedly extraordinary women, who have untiring dedication, talents, and abilities.
In some ways, it feels like yesterday when I pledged OPA, having proudly followed in my sister, Susan Terzian’s, footsteps at Beta Chapter at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Allow me to tell you a little bit about her.
Susan was smart, funny, sensitive, and compassionate. She was my protector and a loyal friend to many with a huge heart! She was a dreamer and a bit of an idealist. She had a real problem with human injustices of any kind and wasn’t afraid to “fight for the rights” of those who were misjudged or mistreated.
Susan LOVED OPA. She worked tirelessly to create and define its cardinal principles during the founding of the national sorority and beyond. She held several offices, including Beta president and was serving as national president at the time of her death.
It was November 1968, six months after her graduation, and we were looking forward to Thanksgiving. This particular Friday, Susan felt uneasy and stayed home from work. In the evening, she left to go to a service project with several Beta sisters.
That night, the car she and four others were riding in was struck by a speeding drunken driver in another car. Despite being thrown from her vehicle, she walked around tending to her injured sisters after the crash. Five days later, however, she succumbed from her severe brain injury. She was the only fatality in that accident. The pain for everyone who knew and loved her was unfathomable, and continues, even to this day.
In my family, my daughter, Susan, is a walking legacy of the aunt she never knew. She wears her name proudly, and we couldn’t be prouder of the good work she is doing with holistic health and wellness. I’m sure my sister Susan is smiling down from above.
And each and every one of you is a living, breathing legacy. OPA sisters continue to provide service and leadership on campuses and in your communities. Be proud of your legacy and continue to pass it on! The Terzian family can’t thank you enough for being an example and role model for countless others.
In fond sisterhood,
Linda Terzian Cartiglia (Beta)