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Meet Suzanne Fong

Suzanne Dunham Fong is an attorney and civic volunteer who has made a difference in and enriched all the academic communities in which she has lived.

She spent her youth in Easton, Md. and went to public schools in Baltimore, before graduating from St. Paul’s School for Girls in Brooklandville, Md. She attended Wellesley College, graduating as an English major in 1974. At Wellesley, she served as an officer in the Wellesley Christian Fellowship, and met Bobby on a joint retreat with Harvard’s Christian Fellowship. They were married in Baltimore at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in 1974. Suzanne then moved with Bobby to Los Angeles, where she earned a master’s degree in English and a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language from UCLA. She was the first UCLA graduate to earn these degrees simultaneously. She taught ESL and later served as a teaching credential counselor at UCLA while Bobby completed his doctorate.  After their move to Berea, Ky., she enrolled in the University of Kentucky College of Law. In 1982 she earned her Juris Doctorate with high honors and was elected a member of the Order of the Coif .

After passing the Kentucky Bar, Suzanne served for two years as a law clerk for the Hon. Paul Gudgel with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. She then became a research associate for the University of Kentucky College of Law, where she edited a two-volume treatise on mineral law in Kentucky and advised the mineral law journal. She later taught legal research and writing at the law school and served as an adjunct professor of economics at Berea College. When Bobby became a dean at Hope College in Michigan, she served there as adjunct professor in English and political science. During these years she chaired her church outreach committee, served on the church vestry and completed a three-year extension course, Education for Ministry, offered by the Episcopal seminary in Sewanee, Tenn. She also chaired the board of a non-profit community organization that provided homes for developmentally disabled adults.

While Bobby served as Dean at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., she twice was elected to the Clinton Central School Board. The family also volunteered as puppy raisers for Canine Working Companions, a non-profit organization which trained and placed service dogs for people with limited mobility.

At Butler University in Indiana, where Bobby became President in June of 2001, Suzanne was primarily occupied with the myriad duties of a university president’s spouse. She found time, however, to serve as a parent representative at her son’s school and on her church’s vestry, on the boards of the Episcopal-Lutheran Campus Ministry and the Immigrant Welcome Center of Indianapolis, and on the organizing committee for the biennial American Pianists competition in Indianapolis. 

Suzanne had grown up not knowing her father, who was stationed overseas in Japan, flying reconnaissance missions over Korea when she was born. On October 7, 1952, when she was six weeks old, his plane was shot down just off the coast of northern Japan by a Russian MiG. A Soviet patrol boat was seen heading toward parachutes. Her father and his crewmates were declared missing. Her family had no further news of his fate until 1992, when a joint Russian-U.S. task force researching the fate of missing American servicemen during the Soviet era located a telegram addressed to Stalin from the Russian Far East Command reporting that they had recovered an airman with her father’s name.  Over the next three years, as the Commission uncovered more information about the fate of her father and the seven others on his RB-29, Suzanne worked to locate their families and advocate for the fullest accounting of what had happened.  When a Russian sailor, who had been on the island where her father’s body had been taken, came to the Commission with her father’s Naval Academy ring, the Commission was able to uncover documents identifying his burial site.  After two attempt, a joint Russian-U.S. recovery team located his body and repatriated it to the U.S. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in 1995.  In October of that year, his crew mates were honored at Arlington with a memorial gravestone.

Suzanne and Bobby Fong are the parents of two sons, Jonathan, a graduate of Connecticut College who is working for the New York District Attorney’s office as a forensic videographer, and Colin, a recent graduate of Bowdoin College, who was a division III All-American in the track Distance Medley Relay and the New England Division III champion in the 800 meter run.  Colin was a psychology major who has also become fluent in Spanish and Chinese for fun.

Suzanne enjoys knitting, quilting, reading and hiking. She is enjoying walking Ursus, the Fongs’ newest puppy, around Collegeville.

SUZANNE FONG