Cover photo for Susan Phillips's Obituary
1952 Susan 2022

Susan Phillips

February 25, 1952 — December 12, 2022

Rutherfordton, NC

A plus-but-also-pint-sized, midwestern-but-also-southern, retired teacher died in Forest City, NC on Monday, December 12, 2022. She was the matriarch of not only her family but also of every family, organization and classroom that would let her in. Over her 70 years she spent her time and money on other people in Indiana, Michigan, Korea, and North & South Carolina. She leaves behind a very dysfunctional family who already miss her more than words can express.

Professionally, she was most proud of her math wizardry and working with learning-disadvantaged kids; she could find a way to teach anyone math (yes, it's possible) & there are many people reading this who know she was a special teacher (you might've known her as Ms. Joh). Personally, she loved her dogs more than any of us humans, she would say what she really thought no matter who you were, and she would cause her own bankruptcy to show someone else a good time. She loved four-letter words as much as she loved knowing & telling everyone's business.

She loved tulips, lighthouses, sarcasm, game shows, going to see movies and Broadway shows (and taking you to movies and Broadway shows), Alan Jackson's blue eyes, inside jokes, Christmas music, laughing inappropriately, executing pranks, her niece Sarah's goats (shout out to Suzy goat), the sound of rain falling on a tin roof, watching people fall down, onions, reading, buying & giving gifts, space heaters, tracking hurricanes, Tabasco, traveling to visit family, Paula Poundstone, giving solicited & unsolicited advice, and most recently, cows.

She had serious health problems her entire adult life but always outsmarted them (until now). She danced with Lymphedema for over 30 years and made sure she had the worst possible case of it so that she could raise awareness (and money - see below).

Not that this is about any of us, but she leaves behind her dogs Maddie & Baby Girl; husband, Roger Phillips; daughters Stacie Joh & Cathy (Jeff) Blanton; son Dale Phillips; granddaughters Loren (Jonathan) Honeycutt, Hannah Phillips & Breanna Phillips; grandson Bratey Wall; great grandson Noah Honeycutt; brotherbestfriend John Ledger; sister Peggy (Mike) Kelly; nieces Sarah Kelly (Jesse) & Emily Kelly; nephew Aaron (Melissa) Ledger; Smudges the cat; and many cousins, friends and special caretakers.

She was previously abandoned by her parents, Asa and Sally Ledger; sister Debora Wakeley; T.C. the cat; dogs Cookey, Dusty, Riley, Bandit, Misty, Cozzi, Princess, and some others she loved but not as much.

In February 2023 we will have a birthday party for her at her home and all are welcome, provided that you bring gifts of stories about her.

The family would like to thank DaVita Dialysis Care of Rutherford County and Hospice of the Carolina Foothills for taking good care of her even when she didn't want you to.

In lieu of flowers, please send generous donations to the National Lymphedema Network (NLN). If you're unable to donate, do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness in her memory.

Carolina Simple Services has been entrusted with arrangements.

An online guest registry is available at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Phillips, please visit our flower store.


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