Susan Jane Bjornson Willey

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, at 5:53 a.m.

CHERRYFIELD – Susan Willey, 52, passed away Jan. 10, 2014, at her home in Cherryfield after a short battle with cancer. Susan was surrounded by her family the entire time of her illness. She was born May 21, 1961, in Ellsworth, to Richard and Claire Bjornson.

Susan married Richard Willey on July 7, 1979, and together operated the Willey Tree Farm in Cherryfield. Susan loved her home in Cherryfield and spending time with her family. She enjoyed gardening, walking, making stained glass, playing with the dogs and four-wheeling with her husband. Sue’s true vocation was that of a teacher. After graduating from the University of Maine at Machias in 1989, she took a position at the Rose M. Gaffney School. For six years, she touched the lives of innumerable students, as many as 420 per year, bringing them creativity and inspiration with her traveling “art cart.” In 1995 Sue began teaching English at Machias Memorial High School. For 19 years she guided her students and helped them to reach their full potential. Whether students knew Mrs. Willey as a teacher, drama coach, National Honor Society Advisor, or mentor, they had the utmost love and respect for her. Her care and concern for their academic and personal well-being was apparent and genuine. She leaves a legacy of literate students, who, having studied with her, are better prepared to make their way in the world. Always advocating for continuous improvement, Sue earned a Master of Science in Education from the University of Southern Maine in 2010. Her advanced degree work in literacy was not only a benefit to her high school students, but also to her MMHS colleagues, and the UMM community. Sue provided a great deal of professional development for AOS 96, and for the past five years, she has worked as an adjunct professor at UMM. As with her students, Sue was loved and respected by her colleagues, all of whom proudly called her friend.

Susan is survived by her best friend and husband, Richard Willey of Cherryfield; and a son, Phillip Willey and his fiancée, Jada Fitch, of Portland. She is also survived by her mother and stepfather, Claire and Walter Kennedy of Harrington; a brother, Richard Bjornson of Palmer, Alaska; a sister, Kara Rosen of Grand Rapids, Mich.; stepsisters, Machelle Hutchins of North Berwick, Dianne Kennedy of Steuben, and Jill Kennedy of Cherryfield; sister-in-law, Jill Escamilla; and very special niece, Eryn Escamilla both of Austin, Texas; mother-in-law, Nancy Willey of Cherryfield; special friend, Susan Hartford of Dresden; dogs, Chloe and Laika; and cat, Skinny. She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was predeceased by her father, Richard Bjornson; grandparents, Charles and Susie Cirone; an uncle, Kenny Cirone; grandmother, Alice Bjornson; and father-in-law, Carlton Willey.

At Susan’s wishes there will be a private ceremony in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Ark, P.O. Box 276, Cherryfield, ME 04622; or Hospice, P.O. Box 425, Bangor, ME 04402.

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