Cover photo for Susan Corke's Obituary

Susan Corke

October 9, 1948 — May 16, 2023

Susan Elizabeth Corke (nee Leppard) (1948-2023)

“If there is ever a tomorrow when we’re not together,

Remember one thing:

You’re smarter, braver, stronger than you think and I’ll

Always be with you”.

Winnie the Pooh

On May 16, 2023, in the loving company of her daughter Katie Hann and son Jeremy Hann, Sue passed away peacefully at the end of her courageous journey with cancer.

Sue was born in Hampton, Middlesex, England on October 9th, 1948, to John Courtney Leppard (1922-2010) and Elizabeth Madge (nee Hapgood – 1922- 1968) The eldest of five siblings (Sally, Jenny, David, and Helen), Sue was a natural leader from the very start. The family moved to Tokyo, Japan in 1963, where Sue attended the American School in Japan. She moved back to England in 1965, finishing her Advanced Level exams at Thames Valley Grammar School in 1967. Sue joined Shell UK for a short period of time after graduating. In August 1968, Sue suffered the devastating loss of her mother and became her siblings’ mainstay, looking after them until her marriage to Peter Corke in 1969. The couple travelled across Europe to India, residing in Australia between 1969 and 1971.

In 1972 Sue emigrated to Toronto, Canada, joining her sister Sally. It was here that Sue met and married, Bob Hann. They had two children – Jeremy Daniel (Amanda) in 1977 and Katherine Lucy Elizabeth (Daniel Kirilo) in 1980. During this early period in Canada, Sue began carving out her incredible career path, working for the Central Eglinton Community Centre in Toronto and Decision Dynamics, an economics consultancy, in Edmonton. Sue took her first degree at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and in 1981 she completed her MSc in Urban and Regional Planning. She achieved all of this while raising a young family and earning a professional living.

In the early 1980’s, Sue joined the Government of Ontario – serving in a variety of progressively senior policy and operational positions through out her years in the Ontario civil service. Sue left the Province as Deputy Minister, Ministry of Consumer and Business Services in 2005. Her administrative drive, organizational flair, sheer professionalism and work ethic marked her out for the highest ranks of the provincial and municipal civil service.

After leaving the government of Ontario, she applied her considerable talents as Deputy City Manager at the City of Toronto between 2005 and 2011, completing her career as Registrar and CEO at the College of Early Childhood Educators between 2011 and 2015. For Sue, there was no such thing as a glass ceiling. She was an incredible role model and mentor to all she knew and worked alongside.

As naturally as leadership came to her, so did compassion. She was awarded a medal for bravery by the Toronto authorities after saving the live of a commuter who had signalled his intention of ending his life while passing through the subway turnstiles in front of her. People often refer to Sue as a lifesaver, helping others overcome obstacles and paving the way for a brighter future.

After Sue’s retirement in 2015, she found the time to pursue her many passions. She continued her membership in two book clubs, was appointed to the Board of the Wellesley Institute and was retained as a private consultant in municipal affairs. Her flair for writing led her to work through 60 years of personal journals, which she used to stimulate the completion and publication of two novellas, that

arrived within a week of her passing away. She enthusiastically participated in many writing workshops, gaining certification in 2022 from the University of Toronto in Creative Writing. She got intense pleasure from her garden and the birds that were attracted to the flowers she planted. Her love of music and theatre was one of her most cherished pastimes., along with travel, which took her on many trips around the world. She returned to Japan on a privileged Fellowship assignment during her tenure at the City of Toronto. After retirement, she travelled to Egypt, Europe and to India. One of her greatest loves was her annual family holidays to Geneva Park, where her children, children’s partners, and grandchildren packed almost everything but the kitchen sink, planned delicious menus, and enjoyed “children’s hour” with Sue’s two treasured granddaughters, Charlotte Jane and Samantha Elizabeth Lillian. Sue also travelled regularly on her own to an exotic villa in Mexico and annually to Florida with the “Florida Ladies.”

Sue was the loving mother-in-law to Amanda and Daniel, treating them with the unconditional love she offered her own children over the years. Sue was step-sister to Mark (Siuha) and Julian Bishop, and Barbara Anne Smart (d. 2020) and stepdaughter to Jocelyn Leppard. Sue loved her extended family – the McHardys, Caves, Helmans, Russells and Bishops. A wonderful auntie to Liz (Stephen) and Jamie (Nicole) , Emma (Brian) , Steve (Kerry) , Kate (Jean Francois) and Louise (Chris) , Gabrielle (Eli), Daniel (Allie) , Simon (Natasha) , Guy (Heidi) and Miranda (Toby). She was a beloved sister-in-law to Sylvia Schumacher, Joel Helman, Doug Simonato, Philip Stenning and Dick Cave (d. 2006) and cousin to Jane, Hugh and Nigel Westaway. There was nothing in this world Sue would not do for her children, their partners, grandchildren, siblings, and extended family.

And she was a fabulous cook and host. She hosted friends to lunch and dinner right up until her very last days. A stream of visitors (international and local) – both family and friends, joined Sue in her home the week prior to her completing her journey on this earth, giving her the opportunity to say her “goodbyes” and share in a few more stories and laughs.

Sue’s friends (John, Eleanor, Beate, Joanne, Sue, Sean, Saeed, Amanda (d. 2012) to name only a few) were her social companions sharing good times and challenging times over many decades. In Eleanor’s words “Sue and I laughed – roared – together, solved the world’s evils, schemed together and more often than not spent good times. Sue was feisty, compassionate, so very thoughtful and so very strong.” She had so many friends and colleagues who cared for Sue and formed the patchwork of her extraordinarily rich life.

In Sue’s final days, she was cared for by the Oncology and Palliative Care Teams at Credit Valley Hospital, along with her nurse, Fazia. Her close family and friends worked together to ensure she had a steady stream of loving companionship. Sue worked intentionally to bring “sparks of joy” and remind all visitors that we were “all just doing our best.”

Taken far too early from her loving family and friends, Sue’s generosity, outstanding organizational skills, outrageous humour, and her place in this family will never be forgotten. Her intelligence, wisdom and compassion for others shone at the end like a brilliant, piercing light, epitomised in her last message to her beloved family: “Enjoy the beautiful days.” She will live on in us forever.

“Say not in grief that she is no more

But say in thankfulness that she was.

A death is not the extinguishing of a light

But the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come”

Rabindranath Tagore

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