Obituary: Susan Rae (Lindenberg) Bhirdo
January 22, 1942~ April 21, 2022
Susan Rae (Lindenberg) Bhirdo, 80, Liberty Grove, died suddenly on April 21, 2022 with Dennis by her side. She was born January 22, 1942 in Oak Park, Illinois to Raymond Walter and Jean Ida (Minton) Lindenberg.
Susan grew up in the Logan Square area of Chicago where she went to Darwin Elementary. She attended Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church where she met one of her best friends for life Joan Hildwein. In 1955 her family relocated to Beloit, Wisconsin where she graduated from Beloit Memorial High School in 1959. From there she attended one year at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Susan was ready for a new adventure and was invited out to Washington D.C. by one of her best friends who was working for the Navy. So, in April of 1961 she hopped into her 1954 Ford Crestline convertible with a continental kit, and drove to D.C. Susan worked for the Bureau of Naval Personnel as a secretary. Shortly after her arrival she and her 3 roommates went to “Tops” a popular drive-in restaurant looking for guys. Along came a 59 red Chevy convertible with Wisconsin license plates, and Susan waved, excited to see someone from her home state. The guys pulled into the stall next to them, and Dennis was in that car. This is where their romance began. On May 12, 1962 they married in Beloit, Wisconsin and then moved to Chicago. She worked for the Inspector of Naval Material in the Personnel Department as a secretary. After a few years in the city they moved to Crystal Lake, Illinois, where Susan became a stay at home mom and babysat for a couple of other children to make ends meet.
Dennis always wanted to move back home to northern Door County and in 1976 Susan reluctantly gave in, or should we say she kicked and screamed the entire way. The city girl and the country boy. They purchased Sister Bay Oil Company at the corner of 57 and Q. Dennis drove the delivery truck and Susan pumped gas and did the paperwork. Susan became a fan of auctions and when she bought a pile of stuff and only wanted a few items she had the idea of opening a secondhand shop in the building’s extra room to sell the excess.
Through the years they purchased multiple gas stations, Clayton & Gene’s in Baileys Harbor, D&M Texaco (where she also operated the Up Front Tee Shirt Shop), Ephraim 76 in Ephraim, and finally Bhirdo’s By the Bay in 1984. After many years and many renovations, it became the first convenience store in Northern Door. Susan started working the midnight shift, but she could be found there until 2 or 3 in the morning, letting in the locals who knocked on the door. To many she was known as Ma Bhirdo. Everyone thought she was the nicest mom and always had a friendly smile to share. In 2001 they sold the business to their daughters and they retired.
In the spring of 2011 Susan came out of retirement and she and Dennis purchased the building next to Bhirdo’s. The family considered a variety of businesses to open, but we only knew two, operating gas stations and running a secondhand store. So, Second Hand Sue’s was reincarnated. This time around would be different, as it would be all consignment, not that Susan didn’t have plenty of old inventory and her own personal items to sell. She enjoyed being back, chatting with the customers.
Susan loved the simple things in life, swinging on her deck listening to her wind chimes, watching the animals come into the backyard to feed, writing letters to her granddaughters, talking on the phone, and eventually texting, and playing the slots at the casino.
Susan did fall in love with Northern Door and never wanted to leave. She also fell in love with the lighthouses especially Cana Island and found a passion at Peninsula Players where she ushered for many years and would help clean every spring.
Nothing made her prouder than her two granddaughters, Jordan and Payton. She and Dennis began an annual trip to Peninsula State park to have a picnic lunch and climb the tower with their granddaughters and their great nieces and nephews.
She is survived by her husband of almost 60 years, Dennis, 2 daughters, Denise and Michele, 2 granddaughters Jordan and Payton, and brother Terry Lindenberg.
She was preceded in death by her parents, son in law Randy Pluff and sister in law and best friend Christine Lindenberg.
Her life will be honored by family at a later date.
Memorials may be given in Susan’s name to the Friends of Plum & Pilot Island, or the Cana Island Restoration Project.