Friends and members of the Countryside Community United Methodist Church, Clarks Summit, said they are devastated and trying to process the sudden death of a beloved friend.
An automobile crash June 17 in South Abington Township claimed the life of a woman who friends described as “a loving, careful person”
Susan L. (Burkey) Duncan, 57, of Scranton was a member of the Countryside Community United Methodist Church, Clarks Summit, where her husband, the Rev. Dr. Jean-Pierre Duncan, serves as pastor and where she occasionally sang in the choir and played the piano and organ.
According to South Abington Twp. Chief of Police Robert Gerrity, Susan Duncan’s was driving her vehicle east on Country Club Road Monday afternoon, June 17 when it drifted off the road and hit the guardrail. He added there was a witness driving in a car behind her who said it was not an abrupt move.
“It’s was a very unfortunate accident,” Gerrity said.
Sue Youtz, Hospitality/Outreach Team Chair at Countryside Community United Methodist Church, believes Susan Duncan impacted everyone in the congregation in some way.
“I absolutely adored her,” Youtz said. “She touched so many lives in the church and had such a strong faith. It’s really a hard loss for the whole church family. I think everyone is still trying to process it, even days later, because of the circumstances.”
Parishioner Anne Mecca, who shared a love of reading with Susan Duncan, started a book club with her last September. She is also a member of PrayerWorks.
“We started exchanging books and while talking learned that we liked a lot of the same ones,” Mecca said. “Her husband, Pastor J.P., said ‘Why don’t you start a book club?’ so we did.”
The group has increased in size during the past year, a testament to its organizer’s likeability.
“We started with three members and are now up to nine,” Mecca said. “She was especially ecstatic about the club and we’re hoping to grow it in her memory.”
Mecca will miss Duncan’s warm personality and soothing influence that she exuded.
“She was a loving, careful person and was always so peaceful,” Mecca said. “She would always calm me down. She really was just a joy to be around. If ever there was a perfect pastor’s wife, she was it. She was such an angel.”
According to Mecca, Susan Duncan had a special connection with each person she met.
“I think everyone who knew her felt as if they lost their best friend, because she made you feel that way,” she said. “She made everyone feel so special.”
Mecca reflected on a moving performance by her friend during the June 16 Sunday worship.
“She sang and played piano in the choir, and never sounded better,” Mecca said. “I told her she sounded like Carole King.”
While it is difficult to lose anyone, Mecca believes Susan Duncan’s death is especially hard due to the way she conducted herself.
“She treated everyone like family,” she said. “It’s more of a loss for everyone because she was so sweet and caring. We’re all pretty devastated.”
Helen Herne added that Susan Duncan’s vocal talents were memorable. According to Herne, Duncan had left the choir to be part of the prayer group, but she returned to sing last week.
“It was amazing and so powerful,” she said. “It was almost like God was giving us the opportunity to share a grand ending with her.”
Herne said she will cherish the time spent in prayer with Duncan on Monday prior to her crash.
“Every Monday, we have a small prayer group that meets at the church,” she said. “I got to hold hands with her in prayer two hours before her accident. It was such an honor to be with her doing God’s work and such a gift to have been with Susan during her final hours.”
Both women talked about how involved Susan Duncan was in various church activities.
“She was such an asset to the church and she was so proud of the church and how people were treating new members,” Herne said.
Herne shared an example of Susan Duncan’s kindness and caring personality when discussing a trip she took with Susan and J.P. to Nashville, Tenn. in 2010 for the School of Congressional Development event.
“I had never flown before and at the time I had really bad arthritis in my knees,” she said. “Susan kept looking back and watching over me to make sure I was doing alright.”
According to Herne, Duncan cherished time spent with her loved ones.
“She was a caring, wonderful person and her family was everything to her,” she said.
“She was always very proud of her family, and made us feel like she was proud of us,” Mecca added.
A longtime editor and journalist until becoming disabled by illness in 1995, Susan Duncan had previously served locally as a proofreader/editor at the former International Correspondence Schools, Scranton; managing editor of the Carbondale News and managing editor of the Mountaintop Eagle and Western Poconos Press Tribune.
She was a graduate of Midview High School, Grafton, Ohio and a cum laude graduate of Kent State University, where she was named the first female sports editor of The Daily Kent Stater.
An avid enthusiast and participant in sports, she served for 11 years as the head junior high field hockey coach in the Crestwood School District, Mountain Top and coached in softball and field hockey programs at the Sherwood Youth Association in Dunmore.
In addition to her husband and parents, she is survived by a brother, Steven Burkey; daughters Katie Sinclair and husband Tim, Aimee Gernatt and husband Chad, and Sarah Duncan and her companion Tameka Thompson and one granddaughter Eleanor Jane Sinclair.