Susan Sebesta Clough of Ellsworth, Kan., shed her earthly prison on Jan. 1, 2024, in Louisville, Ky., at Norton’s Hosparus Health Inpatient Care Center with her daughter Carol by her side. She was 78 years old.
Susan was born March 11, 1945, in Ft. Jackson, S.C., to Col. Arthur J. Sebesta and Mary Sebesta. She spent her formative years moving often due to her father’s military career. She noted 42 changes of address by the time she was 42 years old. (This may cause whiplash if you think about it too long).
Susan married at age 16 and had two children, Doug and Carol. Following her divorce, she moved to Atlanta, Ga., where she worked as a legal secretary for Jerry Cohen at Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan, LLP. She also worked at a hamburger joint in Underground Atlanta called The Bucket Shop to make ends meet. There were days when she only had lettuce for dinner so her children could eat tuna fish casserole, a delicacy of the 60s. Her children’s fondest memories of this time are not of the casserole, but of watching cartoons on Saturday morning with her, eating cheese toast, day trips to Panama City Beach, Fla., and making fudge for Christmas. She did the normal things too, like attending her son’s baseball games and her daughter’s violin concerts.
In 1971, Susan was hired by Jody Powell in the Georgia Governor’s Press Office as a news assistant. She worked for Gov. Jimmy Carter and the next governor, George Busbee, until she joined Carter’s Presidential Campaign in 1976.
The highlight of Susan’s professional career was her service during Carter’s presidency. She was President Carter’s personal assistant and secretary from 1976-1981. During these years in Washington, D.C, and Plains, Ga., Susan was dedicated to the administration, her children and our country. She accompanied the president on all of his trips and worked long hours, beginning before daylight and sometimes was gone from home for days, even weeks, at a time. She was an integral part of the administration and contributed in many ways, apparent to those who read the Camp David Accords. Susan was keenly intelligent. She was humble, dedicated and tireless. She valued everyone she met, from waiters, servers and secretaries to kings, prime ministers and ambassadors. She expected the same from all and gave the same to all — honesty and respect.
Susan went on to a distinguished career after her time in D.C. She worked as a senior administrative officer and director for Galler Automation Industries, Sears World Trade, Inc., Continental Grain Company, Kelso and Company and the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games before a back injury sidelined her for the rest of her life.
Susan’s hobbies included playing classical guitar and piano, tennis and bridge. She was a feisty competitor. Susan was a member of Mensa and a fourth-generation member of Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), dedicated to helping women pursue a higher education.
Susan was a beloved force of nature, resilient and determined. She, however, disliked New Year’s Eve, which made it all the more astounding that she lasted through the night into the first day of 2024. She no doubt wanted to see the New Year dawn.
One of the most beautiful things about Susan was her belief in the ability of her family to accomplish great things regardless of their age and current circumstances. She will be deeply missed for her generous encouragement and fighting spirit. We will especially miss her advocacy for our lives.
Susan is survived by her son, Douglas M. Clough (Karen), Gilbert, Ariz.; her daughter, Carol Clough Borden, M.D. (Scott), Floyds Knobs, Ind.; and her brother, Arthur J. Sebesta, II (Kathy), Lexington, Ky. She has several beloved grandchildren: Nicole Marshall (Justin), Jordan Bennett (Adrienne) and Jonathan Bennett; Samuel Borden, Lucas Borden, Sarah Borden, Jackson Hamilton and Carter Hamilton; and her nephews and niece Geoff, Ken and Alix Sebesta. Her cat, Frankie, resides with his cousins at her daughter’s home in Floyd Knobs.
Although we miss her terribly, we are glad she is no longer suffering the pain that defined her later years and her COPD. Please don’t smoke — anything. Your lungs are precious and hard to replace. We are forever grateful to her pulmonologist, Dr. John McConnell, Hosparus of Louisville, Ky., and especially to doctors Kelsey Nestor and Andrew Lally for helping during Susan’s final days.
Susan’s memorial service will be held March 15, 2024, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ellsworth, Kan. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in her name to the Kentucky Humane Society or Hosparus Health.