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Winter 2001
1st Among Firsts
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With an irrepressible spirit and unwavering dedication to the university she served as First Lady for nearly three decades, Sue Young was a force to be reckoned with

By John W. Ryan

Sue Young amazed everyone she encountered. Her interests were broad and her talents many. For years to come, people will be recounting Sue Young stories, and the yarns will not suffer in the retelling.

My wife, Pat, and I knew Sue '77 and Charles Young M.A. '57, Ph.D. '60 for many years, working, traveling and laughing together with them. We believe that we glimpsed the "real" Sue Young, but our association was largely focused on university interests. There are many who knew and loved Sue for the myriad other aspects of her spirit.

Yet, she really sparkled in her role as the First Lady of UCLA for 29 years, until Chuck retired as chancellor in 1997. The Bruin alumna in her gave rise to determination that UCLA would be outstanding in everything.

Second-best was never good enough for Sue Young, not in academics, or style, or sports, or anything. She was born and raised that way, and the spirit of UCLA simply increased her insistence on being first-rate in everything. She was a superb First Lady — outstanding among her contemporaries. She was attentive to newcomers to such positions, knowing how apprehensive they could be about their role, and she published her experiences to help them address their own campus challenges. She was a kind and good friend. She was assertive, even opinionated, and certainly not always right. All of this made her a fascinating woman to be around. Her death on September 28, at the age of 69, after many years of battling breast cancer, was a terrific blow.

We were in Los Angeles in 1985 for the quinquennial meeting of the International Association of Universities (IAU). Sue organized the social, cultural and visitor events for the meeting, and the results, in the opinion of everyone who was there, were spectacular, the best meeting in every way, before or since. We were introduced to the finest in the arts, sciences and cuisine, and deftly cared for by a regiment of women whom Sue had called upon to help put forward the wonders of Southern California.


2005 The Regents of the University of California