Long battle with Parkinson’s claims former Signal vice-mayor Susan Robertson, 75
Susan Robertson, a longtime environmental and community activist at Signal Mountain, chosen in early 2007 to be one of the city’s five-member city council, died Friday at Memorial Hospital.
His death came several years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
A keen environmentalist and open government enthusiast, Ms.
Robertson’s appointment to the board came just months after two former members were recalled by voters angry over their decision to rezone the Shackleford Ridge area to allow 1/3 acre lots.
Soon after, she and her budding board colleague Annette Allen had plunged headfirst into their new responsibilities.
“It’s hard to overstate how hard Susan worked on the board,” says Allen.
“A talented writer, Susan wrote a copy for the city’s website, helped staff write the staff manual, and wrote dozens of resolutions and orders,” she recalls. Additionally, Ms. Ms. Robertson was instrumental in the creation of a new Signal Mountain Trees Board of Directors and fought for the conservation of the city’s green spaces.
Ms. Robertson’s commitment to open government, according to Ms. Allen, inspired her to also create “Notes from the Council”, a weekly column aimed at keeping the community engaged in what her government was doing.
In the column, she detailed the issues ahead for both city council and the town planning commission, described actions taken by the council, and alerted readers to upcoming events in the city.
“Susan cared deeply about her city and fought tirelessly to maintain her character before, during and after her service on city council,” noted Ms. Allen. “Susan’s countless hours in the city created a model of open government and thoughtful decision-making based on community input.
Former Mayor Bill Lusk, who also served with her on council, remembers working tirelessly for the community.
“She was instrumental in revising and rewriting the city code which was outdated and often inaccurate,” he said. “She has been a driving force behind the preservation of our public lands, while always working to improve the quality of life in our community.”
“Susan takes with her institutional knowledge that will be impossible to replicate,” he concluded. “RIP, Susan Robertson.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed by longtime allies such as Barbara Womack, founding member and current vice president of the Tree Council.
“Susan was an environmental champion,” said Ms. Womack. “She co-founded the Signal Mountain Tree Board which protected hemlock trees on public and private property. (Also) when she was a member of the city council, she played an important role in preserving the city’s parks by helping to place them in a conservation easement.
Over the years, his hard work has been noticed and widely supported. In 2010, for example, when she was running for a second term on the board, numerous letters to the editor supporting her candidacy appeared in local newspapers.
“Let’s keep Susan Robertson on Signal Mountain City Council,” began a letter from Charles Poss, now the city’s mayor.
“While serving on city council, Susan worked morning, noon and night to improve the city and benefit its residents,” wrote the future mayor. “And while she worked more hours than many of us in our own job, she did it for a job that pays her no pay.
“Susan is dedicated to serving Signal Mountain with integrity,” the letter continues. “She makes sure the public is well informed on the important issues facing our city and listens to the opinions of the public to formulate their own well-reasoned decisions. She will not shrink from a difficult problem.
Born August 10, 1946 in Louisiana where her father, a decorated fighter pilot, served at Barksdale Air Force Base, Ms. Robertson never really had a hometown during her childhood. His father’s military career took the family across the country, from Texas to Ohio to Massachusetts and Washington, DC, as he was transferred from one location to another.
In adulthood, however, it took root deeply.
In 1976, she and her husband, Jerry, moved to Signal Mountain after starting work for the TVA nuclear program.
The move was final.
Ms Robertson – a University of South Carolina graduate with a BA in English, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, – soon taught English at Signal Mountain Junior High. She later became an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
She then received a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College in 1985 and has published a variety of works of fiction and non-fiction.
Another interest, antiques, led her to eventually become the owner-operator of Susan Robertson and Crew. “We’re a small real estate sales company that offers on-site sales and consignment services,” the company’s website explained. “We are also certified personal property appraisers. “