Suzanne Norton McCormick Shealy
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Published in The State on June 17, 2022
Dreher High School
University of South Carolina
February 19, 1955 – June 14, 2022
Columbia, South Carolina – Suzanne Norton McCormick Shealy, 67, is at rest and rejoicing in her eternal home with her Lord Jesus Christ, after a nearly decade long challenge living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Lou Gehrigs Disease.) She passed peacefully at Prisma Health Richland Hospital in Columbia surrounded by her family.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2:00 p.m., on Friday, June 17, 2022 at Northeast Presbyterian Church at 601 Polo Road, Columbia, SC 29223.
A native of Warren, OH, Suzy was born February 19, 1955 to Samuel James McCormick Jr. and Marjorie Norton McCormick. Her family relocated to Columbia in 1962. Suzy was predeceased by her parents, and as a Gold Star mother she was predeceased by her son, US Army Sergeant Joseph Derrick, KIA serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005.
Those left to cherish her memory include her best friend and loving husband of 39 years, Carey Shealy, loving daughter and full-time caregiver Elizabeth and her husband Randy Nazionale of Columbia, and loving son William and his wife Nicole Shealy of North Charleston, SC. Her grandchildren are Mason Nazionale, 8, of Columbia, and Liam, 10, Sophia, 8, and Adeline Shealy, 4, of North Charleston. She leaves behind a sister, Jo Anne and her husband Steve Quatannens of Campobello, SC, and her sister-in-law Rebecca and her husband Whitfield Howard of Murrells Inlet, SC. Her therapy dog Darla, a toy poodle, lovingly sat in Suzy’s lap for doctor’s appointments and wherever Suzy traveled.
Suzy attended Dreher High School and the University of South Carolina. She pledged Kappa Delta Sorority in the Fall of 1972. An accomplished equestrian, she was a member of The Camden Hunt and competed in local horse shows during her high school and college years, achieving distinction for her sportsmanship and sense of fair play. She was a member of Northeast Presbyterian Church and served for many years as children’s choir director, a flutist, and part of the Chancel Choir for most of her adult life. She served on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities starting in 1999, and served two separate times as Board President. She was a Board of Trustees member of The Walker Foundation, the fundraising entity of the SC School for the Deaf and Blind in 2007-2010. In 2011, she volunteered with The Independence Fund, an organization teaching wounded veterans, caregivers, and children to paint. Their art facility in Ridgeland, SC was named “Suzy’s” in honor of her and her deceased son Joseph.
Suzy was an artist whose Iraqi Series paintings were featured by many national and local media outlets. A grieving mother after Joseph’s death, she drew her inspiration from photos that he took in Iraq, and began depicting the images with paint on canvas. Some of her original artwork was formerly on display at the SC State House. She sold prints of the Iraqi Series paintings and donated all proceeds to a charity providing arts to wounded veterans. She was also an award-winning artist with her “Charleston Window Box” piece selected to hang in a historic building on Broad Street in Charleston.
Starting in late 2011, Suzy began experiencing an unexplainable loss of balance and falls. By 2012, she had developed muscular tremors and shakes. Her official ALS diagnosis was in 2013. The disease took away her ability to talk and move the muscles in her body. However, her eye muscles worked and her mind functioned the same. She required 24/7 caretaking from daughter Elizabeth and she lived with Elizabeth, Randy, and Mason. She was wheelchair bound for about eight years. Her means of communication were two speech generating devices that she used to type words with her eye movements, or by tapping on a sensor with two fingers and the devices would speak for her. She also communicated with the blinking of her eyes, and she developed a method of communication with Elizabeth through her blinking and spelling of words one letter at a time. She would use her devices to let her family know, “I love you to the moon and back” at every chance she could, and she shared it through her device speaker. Despite a tough situation, she persevered through life’s challenges and always shared her love of the Lord and an unwavering faith.
Following her ALS diagnosis, friends and strangers stepped up to help in the fight to spread awareness. “Team Suzy” had countless supporters who organized in her honor for run/walk events, did fundraising in her name, and took part in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge to raise awareness and raise funds to help those with the disease locally and nationally.
In 2017, Suzy was recognized by Gov. Henry McMaster with the highest civilian award in the state, the “Order of the Palmetto.” Her work in co-founding the non-profit “Creative Journey” to provide the arts to veterans and caregivers, was a nationally and locally award-winning program. Her greatest achievements though, which brought her the most joy, was to be alongside her husband, watching her children get married and thrive and experiencing life watching her grandchildren grow.
During the last few years of her life, she spent a lot of time with her family in Debordieu, SC, a place she considered her happy place. She also spent much time with her own thoughts, as she was not able to verbally speak them. She writes, “The only things that truly matter are relationships: with God, our family, our friends and acquaintances, and perhaps even strangers. In my silence, I have found peace in praying about things as opposed to fretting over things. Truth is the pathway to a peaceful heart.” – Suzy Shealy
Her ultimate goal was to always “Finish Well,” as written in one of her favorite verses James 1:2-3.
Memorial contributions may be made to Compassionate Care ALS https://ccals.org.
Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family. Memories may be shared at www.dunbarfunerals.com.
Dunbar Funeral Home – Devine
3926 DEVINE ST
Celebration of Life
Jun, 17 2022
Northeast Presbyterian Church