1. Archive

Suzanne Lavery, longtime Dunedin teacher, dies

Suzanne Miller Lavery, who spent 30 years teaching at Dunedin High School, has died at 55.

She retired in 1998, planning to travel with her husband, Charles H. Lavery. But cancer she had battled since early 1996 returned. On Tuesday (March 13, 2001), she died in her Palm Harbor home.

Mrs. Lavery was brave to the end, according to her family and friends.

"I only saw her cry once in the time I've known her," Charles Lavery said. "That was five years ago, exactly one week after we were married. She came home from the doctor and just broke out in tears."

She had been given a diagnosis of breast cancer.

"But they assured her that after a mastectomy, everything would be fine," recalled her husband.

Shortly afterward, Charles Lavery was told he had lung and bladder cancer that "the doctors called 90 percent fatal," he said.

So, together the newlyweds fought their cancers.

Mrs. Lavery underwent the mastectomy, and her husband's cancer went into remission. After her retirement, the couple planned to enjoy the rest of their days traveling.

But doctors soon discovered that her cancer had spread into her blood. Then it moved to her brain.

"Eight months ago, when they confirmed the brain tumor, they gave her two weeks," Lavery said of his wife. "But she continued to fight."

Besides her husband, survivors include three stepsons, Gerald, Inverness, Thomas, Au Gres, Mich., and Dr. Michael T., Troy, Mich.; a stepdaughter, Cathryn Fox, Adrian, Mich.; a brother, Richard A. Emerick, Savage, Minn.; a nephew, Kyle Emerick, Sausalito, Calif.; and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Curlew Hills Funeral Home, 1717 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor, with funeral services at 2 p.m. Friday at the chapel followed by entombment at Curlew Hills Memory Garden.