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Hometown Hero

"Hometown HeroesA regular feature about people on South Whidbey who are making a difference in the quality of life for their friends, families, neighbors or others they may never even meet. To nominate people for consideration as a Hometown Hero, send a note with their names and your name, plus a way to contact them and a description of the reason for their nomination. Write to The Record, P.O. Box 387, Langley, WA. 98260. Photo: Sue Idso volunteers her time as an art docent at the South Whidbey Primary School.Matt Johnson / staff photoBiographySue Otterman IdsoBorn March 22, 1960 in Pasadena, Calif.; one brotherEducation: Santa Monica High School, UCLAFamily: Married to Marv since Feb. 18, 1984; two sons, Matthew, 9, and Zachary, 8.Interests and community involvement: 4-H mom, horses, Sunday School teacher and coordinator, art docent, rescuing animals, playing piano for church and school, singing with the Sophia Singers, gardening, reading, my new mules and cart, sharing the love of horses with anyone.Goals: To deepen my relationship with my kids and husband; to be grateful of every second of life; to be a good steward of all of God's creations and land; to become a better and more effective person.What does it mean to Honor thy father and mother?Sue Idso's own mother says her daughter, this month's Hometown Hero, has honored her parents by living a life of integrity and upholding the family's tradition of volunteerism in the community.My children have honored God and their parents by loving their families and community, said Carolyn Otterman. Sue has been there for me. My children's lives have made my life a rewarding one.Similar words come from Cleveland Riley, Jr. of Freeland.Family and community are inseparable, Riley said. Sue strives for justice and peace among all people, and respects the dignity of every living thing.And according to community volunteer Susan Sandri, Idso doesn't just perceive or lament an injustice or need. Sue is moved by it, Sandri said, drawing out the word for emphasis. While many of us become apathetic or paralyzed by obstacles, Sue mobilizes forces and identifies and ignites enthusiasm to bring together committed people. Like the ant at the rubber tree and the little engine that could, Idso is not easily discouraged, Sandri said.I know Sue is deeply religious, but I appreciate that she never tries to convert or preach her faith to others, said Janet Gershfield. She simply lives it out with action and kindness.Idso was once a Manhattan, N.Y., hotel manager and public relations executive following college. I thought I'd be in a high powered career, she said.Instead, she is a stay-at-home mother and housewife on South Whidbey. And she feels that staying home has been the most rewarding career she could have chosen. In the bigger scheme of things, I've been able to make more of an impact not being paid for my work at home and in the community, she said. I've been fortunate to be able to stay home.Raised in Malibu, Calif., Idso lived around and chummed with well-to-do and famous people.I learned that people are just people, she said. What's really important is their character, honesty, compassion and concern for human beings.What she doesn't like and never respects is pretentiousness -- in an individual or a group. She pointed out as an example the drivers who think they're more important than anyone else, driving as if they own the road. She described a personal incidentLast week as I was driving my 'mother van' full of kids, a sports car appeared behind me, right on my car's tail. The driver, with full volume music and bass blasting, was weaving from side to side attempting to pass me on a curve.When it was safe to do so, she pulled over for the impatient driver to pass. He sped around her like a released racehorse, repeating the same rude behavior with the car in front of her.A few miles up the road we noticed that a police car had pulled over -- guess who? Ah, sweet justice, she said with a smile.Idso describes her own (youthful) pretentiousness in another story.When I began dating my husband Marv, he was putting himself through a graduate program and didn't seem to appear to spend his money on clothes, and drove a hideous old green truck, she recalled. Then she owned up: I actually asked him to meet me off the UCLA campus so my sorority sisters wouldn't see that old truck.It's through these life experiences that we can learn and become better people, she said. Just because we thought one way or did something in the past doesn't mean we're the same person today.Though, she said, I do keep in mind that I can always be wrong today; I don't ever want to lose sight of that fact.Another way Idso feels she has grown is in her ability to feel grief.I used to be afraid to allow myself to feel my sadness, for fear I would be stuck in that mood, she said. Now I know I'm able to fully experience grief and come out on the other side.Idso says she has learned this through her experiences with animals. She recalls a time recently when she had to put down a beloved horse, Stanley. Not only her family, but the children in the neighborhood as well and the children of the HOPE riding program loved the horse. I sank into a deep despair from the loss of Stanley, Idso said. This kind, gentle horse, who touched so many lives, unleashed all the sorrow I'd stored inside for all losses. I permitted myself to experience all the pain and sad emotions inside me.She explained that she visualizes gently cradling all her emotions or burdens in her closed hand. She folds her fingers compassionately around her grief.Only when I'm ready do I tenderly open my fingers and release all the healed sadness, making room for joy, she said. This realization that I'm able to sink into despair and then be happy again is so freeing. With each passing year I grow happier and happier.Idso talks of the events in her life that have kept her learning -- including her parents' divorce when she was 16 years old. I've since learned they're still my parents, and I appreciate the best traits in each of them, she said. My mother and father were so very different. Maybe they didn't make it as a couple, but there is much good to glean from each of them.She describes her father as fun loving, kind and never wanting to leave anyone out.He always thrives on new experiences and loves life, she said. From him I learned to seek adventure, and love life, and include everyone in whatever I'm doing.Her mother taught her to think of others first.My mother truly is an amazing human being, Idso said. She is unworldly, dedicated and was always self-sacrificing.I know the true way to happiness is putting others first, Idso continued, adding that she has never met a selfish person who is content or happy.Living with others in mind before ourselves is a simple virtue, she noted. And, she added, It's a virtue that is alive and well on South Whidbey.What others say about SueSue is committed to the education of children. She exemplifies this by her generous donation of time to the schools, churches, 4-H, HOPE, the art docent program, Vacation Bible School, and many other community endeavors, as well as opening her home to children. I am continually impressed with her vast talents and all the time she volunteers to better the lives of all children in our community.Nancy Ruff, Clinton community volunteerSue Idso volunteers each week in our classroom and teaches art lessons. The students adore her, because she prepares interesting and creative projects. She set up a fabulous field trip to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Impressionism exhibit. Sue is an inspiration, because she is so kind, gentle and supportive to all.Intermediate School teacher Lisa AdamsSue lives by the phrase, 'Not a problem,' whether you ask her to watch your kids or fill in for another volunteer. Her infectious smiles and enthusiasm light up any grey day.Colleen Keefe, community volunteerI am on a committee with Sue. In addition to her great capacity for ideas and creative exhibits, she just bubbles with positive insights and optimism.Wren MacLean, community volunteerSue would quickly change her plans to help or serve someone in need. She is an inspiration to me the way she loves people. I desire to emulate that quality. She has an ability to see the overall picture and has a tremendous ability to recruit other high quality volunteers. She truly is a Hometown Hero.Katherine Mack, community volunteerSue has an important quality: commitment and follow-through. She sees a project to completion. She is a true ambassador. Kindness is something that can be learned from her.Bernie Mahar, community volunteer and Primary School principalMy mom has to put up with lots of stuff. For example, she fixes our rooms and our meals, helps me with homework, school, is an art docent and 4-H too. She is special.Matt Idso, age 9, oldest sonMy mom is special because she helps me with all my school, and at home.Zach Idso, age 8, youngest sonSue's personal sidesWhere did you meet your husband Marv?At a Disneyland employees party I was invited to. A lot of the employees were shorter characters, like the Seven Dwarfs. Marv and I were the only tall people there. (Note: She stands 5'11)What is good advice for others to live by?Don't blame others for your own shortcomings. And remember you're no more important than anyone else.What are you proud of?My children and my community.Do you have a pet peeve?When someone says they'll do something and they don't. If we find our plate is too full, admit it and find a way to get it done.What motivates you?Life."

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