I knew Susan Birchak. Not as well as the people at KMOG, out of whose building public access Channel 7 operates. But well enough to be personally affected by her murder.
In fact, I first met Susan in a context that made the circumstances surrounding what happened to her a likely compound of domestic violence and alcoholism not totally unexpected.
The two are a potentially deadly combination, and there are those who, in trying to save a loved one or friend, cannot help but venture too near the highly combustible mixture they create. Susan was such a person a person who saw good in all people and who, despite all evidence to the contrary, was always willing to give them one more chance.
I also knew Susan as the person on the back end of the Channel 7 television camera at Payson Town Council meetings and at other public events and happenings we were both assigned to cover.
I remember the time she ventured from behind her camera at a Town Council meeting and walked to the podium to address that body on an issue that mattered to her. It wasn't exactly protocol for a newsperson to become part of the story she was covering, but that was what Susan was all about.
She was small of stature, and it was difficult to see her standing behind the podium that evening. But when this diminutive person spoke, you could hear a pin drop. She had that kind of effect on people.
Susan seemed to care about everybody and everything, and maybe therein lies the lesson that we need to take away from her otherwise senseless death. That life really is tenuous, and that, as often as we give it lip service, we really do need to treat each day as a special gift to be lived with passion.
As for Susan, I'm reminded of something my Uncle Jack, an avowed atheist, said at his father's my grandfather's funeral. "If there is a god, and if he totes up the good and the bad that people do in their lives, then my father is with him today."
So is Susan.
Jim Keyworth, reporter