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1939 Sue 2023

Sue Hinkleman

August 26, 1939 — March 22, 2023

Susanna (Sue) Hinkelman passed peacefully on March 22, 2023 at the age of 83. She was born Faith Susanna Elizabeth Hill on August 26, 1939, to F. Oscar and Aini (Hilston) Hill of Fairport Harbor, Ohio. She was the youngest of five children: Francis O. “Brooks” Hill, David W. Hill, Charles A. Hill and Karen M. “Maiju” (Hill) Mackey.

She grew up in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. Her childhood was spent enjoying countless hours at the  beach, participating as a Girl Scout, going on many adventures while traveling throughout the country with her parents, spending two summers at Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan where she was honored to be chosen to play Taps, on her trumpet, at the close of each day, helping at her father’s hardware store, Hill’s  Hardware, and being active at (Suomi) Zion Lutheran Church, where her grandfather, M. Oskari Hill (who had immigrated from Finland), was very involved in carving and building the alter and where her deep Lutheran faith was forged.

She graduated from Harding High School, in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, in 1957. During her years there she created many happy memories while playing the trumpet in the marching band, singing in the choir, participating in the National Honor Society and editing the yearbook. Her senior year, she was voted Homecoming Queen. Even in recent years, she continued to meet for lunch with her dear Fairport friends.

She went on to graduate from Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1960. In later years, she followed her calling to become a Hospice nurse. She expertly and lovingly cared for so many as they transitioned to their final peace, while also tenderly and thoughtfully assisting her patients’ families as they mourned the loss of their loved ones.

She had a deep love of the arts, that she shared with her children. She was always up for attending a concert or play or ballet or visiting a museum or gallery. She found beauty everywhere and even miracles in the mundane and never lost her sense of wonder and awe of the world around her.

She was an avid reader. She surrounded herself with, and filled every room of her home with, her beloved books. She not only loved reading the books, but she also simply loved how the books felt in her hands and even how they smelled. They brought her much joy as her curiosity was endless and she was ever eager to immerse herself into the world of an author’s imagination.

She participated in the bell choir and vocal choir at the various Lutheran churches she became a member of, over the years. She had a beautiful soprano singing voice. During times that she was seated with the congregation, it was not unusual for her to spontaneously begin harmonizing with whomever had the pleasure of standing near her. She elevated each piece with her natural abilities and made those around her sound better simply by inspiring them with her enthusiasm and love for the beauty of the music.

She had a zest for life that was second to none. She was always up for an adventure or to try something new. As a young mother, she pursued and achieved her dream of obtaining her pilot’s license, even though her male flight instructor was not particularly supportive of her. At that time, women were not yet viewed as being capable of such endeavors. So, he required her to meet higher standards than he expected of her male counterparts, including recovering from a “stall”, which she did, with ease. She often spoke whimsically of her time spent among the clouds, as she flew serenely above the world below.

Her love of flying and her wanting to share that love with her family, led to many other memorable activities. A few summer family trips, when her children were young, were spent in Oshkosh, Wisconsin attending “The EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Annual Convention and Fly In”, which is now called the “EAA AirVenture”, as she had been an EAA Member, at that time. In recent years, she supported and frequently visited the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, in Cleveland, with her children and grandchildren.

She was entirely of Finnish decent and was extremely proud of her heritage and her Finnish “SISU” (“never give up” sense of spirit) from which she drew her strength. Her son-in-law referred to her as being “fiercely Finnish”. She spoke only Finnish until she started kindergarten and, as a young girl, she enjoyed participating in Finnish dancing and other Finnish traditions, as well as, learning to cook and bake delicious Finnish foods, which inspired her eldest granddaughter to become quite skilled at making a family favorite, Nisu (a Finnish sweet bread). Later in life, she became active with the Finnish Heritage Museum, in Fairport Harbor, and helped maintain the Finnish Garden at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Often times some of her children and/or grandchildren would accompany her as she taught them, through example, to take pride in their heritage and to volunteer their time and talents to help make the world a better place.

In addition to helping with the Finnish Garden, she proudly participated in the “One World Parade” that invites representatives from each of the nationalities that are represented in the Cleveland area, to march through the Cultural Gardens, along MLK Blvd. One year, she was quite touched to have her middle granddaughter march along beside her while dressed in her authentic Finnish costume, that her parents had had hand-made specifically for her in Finland, that she would wear, when she was young, while performing her Finnish dancing.

She had a lifelong love of water. Growing up in Fairport Harbor, along the shore of Lake Erie, and continuing to live most of her life in various cities along that same shoreline, she drew strength from the calming, yet ever changing, water. Whether she was watching the beauty of a rainstorm, admiring the stillness of a puddle, sitting upon a coastline, joyfully playing in the waves with her grandchildren or searching for sea glass and interesting rocks while wading along the shore, she breathed in her peace and restored her being.

She also drew life from simply spending time in nature. She found and appreciated the life and beauty that was all around her. While walking in the woods she was able to notice the miracle of God’s handiwork in the smallest of details. She absolutely loved working in her yard: raking, trimming, planting, sweeping, watering, mowing. She was not afraid of getting her hands dirty while digging in the life-giving soil. She would happily spend hours outside, appreciating the flora and fauna and absorbing the fresh air and sunshine.

She loved animals. While her five children were growing up, there were ALWAYS numerous pets sharing their home: cats, dogs, birds, fish, hermit crabs, turtles, frogs, hamsters, rabbits, a Guinea pig. When her one daughter’s hamster had babies the day after it was brought home from the pet store and died unexpectedly two weeks later, she set up a round the clock feeding schedule for the entire family to take turns feeding the baby hamsters with an eye-dropper every two hours, saving their lives.

She demonstrated her love for all animals by rescuing and releasing a number of helpless, featherless wild birds who had fallen from their nests (some may recall “Sonny” the robin who became best buddies with our family parakeet “Cookie”) and a snapping turtle that was obviously lost as it showed up in the front yard and a grebe that had been blown off course.  She especially LOVED feeding, identifying and simply marveling at the beauty of the wild birds that would frequent her many bird feeders, in her backyard “bird sanctuary”.

Her love for her children and grandchildren stretched around the globe, be it a few streets away, the other side of the country or 14 time zones. It brought her much happiness to show her love by spending time with them however and whenever she could, presenting them with unique gifts and always giving lots and lots of hugs. In fact, if you had ever met her, there is a very good chance that she had given YOU a hug or had, at the very least, sent you “virtual hugs”. She had a way of making everyone she met feel seen, welcome, accepted, loved and special. She loved meeting new people and was truly interested in finding out about who they were, what they were interested in and what life experiences they had had.

Her nieces and nephews and other family members have many fond memories of times spent with her, over the years. One way she created lasting memories was by happily hosting various family holiday parties, with fun, creative games to involve ALL ages. She would even hand-make special prizes and awards, for the winners. She also took the time to write letters, and eventually emails, to family who were away at college or serving in the armed-forces or who had moved far away. One nephew shared the following from his childhood memories: “…she would always sit with me and play games or read to me, making me feel so very special. She will always be to me one of the kindest persons I ever knew.”

Her gentle nature shown through daily, to bring to life the words of one of her favorite songs: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” Throughout her life, in so many ways, she left a beautiful impression of peace and love on the world. Thanks to her influence, we, her family, will walk forward in peace, breathe in peace and BE peace in the world with her in our hearts, always.

Throughout her 83 years, she called several cities and towns, across Ohio, her home: Fairport Harbor, Cleveland, Madison, Columbus, Toledo and, lastly, Cleveland Heights. Each location grew  connections and friendships that she held dear and cherished. She will be missed and mourned by many.

She is survived by her sister, Maiju Mackey, her five children: Brenda, Michael, Glenn, Carole, and Anne, and her eight grandchildren: Braden, Kody, Chani, Patrick, Adele, Brooks, Ike, and Elise.

By sometime early summer we hope to hold a Celebration of Life gathering and burial of her cremains at Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. We will share an update when we know more. A private memorial service for immediate family will be held on Wednesday, April 5th, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Condolences and special memories can be shared with her family online at

Should you desire to make a memorial donation, please consider gifts to Gentiva Hospice or The Wounded Warrior Project. Thank you.  Checks may be made to: Gentiva Hospice Foundation 4401 Rockside Rd #214 Independence, OH 44131 Or contact:  The Wounded Warrior Project (select Donate)

Heritage Cremation & Burial Society
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