Interviewed by: Carla Steiger
Susan Zurcher, 69, is not one to sit still. She likes working at The Foodbank because sorting food that comes in barrels to the warehouse is an active job. She finds that the three hours per week she spends there are satisfying. Susan stated, “I really like doing this straightforward job which helps people directly.” Even a recent knee replacement surgery in April and frequent physical therapy has not held her back from pitching in. She has been with The Foodbank for six months and feels that her work here is a good balance with her other volunteer job at Dayton History at Carillon Park archives where she volunteers 6 hours aweek.
Susan frequently travels around the world, taking in the sights and sounds of each new place she visits. In a recent trip to Madagascar, she was deeply struck with the level of poverty she saw everywhere. “It wasn’t comfortable to be there as a privileged person, when people all around me had so little,” she said. This strengthened her belief, even more, that she wanted to help people in her own community receive access to their most basic of needs; food.
Recently retired, Susan spoke fondly of her days working for the City of Dayton Television Network, where she spent 14 years covering “groundbreakings, city commission meetings, ribbon cuttings and police awards. We produced shows of special interest to citizens – just all different kinds of things that were City Hall related.” She said, “A very few of us did all the jobs.”
Her background also includes creating and editing Discover, a weekly, 4-page newsletter for Catholic primary school children when she worked for the Pflaum Publishing Company in the early 1970s. When she was with the City of Dayton City Beautiful Council in the mid-seventies, Zurcher had the opportunity to photograph nationally-known sculptors who were creating temporary works downtown.
From that experience came an interest in art so strong that she quit her job to pursue her dream full-time. Always fearless about new endeavors she said, “I rented a studio and created large scale sculptures that were composed of branches wrapped in wire.” The Putnam Sculpture Collection at Case Western Reserve University describes her as a feminist “photographer, performance artist, and sculptor” whose wire and wood work, “resemble three dimensional drawings, and are meditations on the relationship between nature and technology.”
Zurcher’s interests also include non-fiction reading, both in book form and on audio recordings. Additionally, she is passionate about her participation in the Sacred Harp, Shape Note vocal group that sings at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood on a monthly basis. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about it. The music was born from a 200 year-old American musical tradition that consists of a community of singers of all levels of expertise uniting to sing four-part hymns and anthems.
The balance of Susan’s work at The Foodbank and her musical involvement combine to give fulfillment to this terrifically talented, dynamic and intelligent woman.