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In Memoriam ~ Susan H. Palucci

Susan H. Palucci
Mother of Staff Member Jill Pauly
Grandmother of Olivia Pauly ’24 and Sofia Pauly ’27  

Susan Marie Hespen Palucci of St. Louis, Missouri passed away peacefully surrounded by her children and sisters at 5 o’clock somewhere (St . Louis) on Saturday, December 30, 2023.  

Sue’s life was lived as a love story. She was born on November 10, 1944 as the oldest of three beloved daughters to Dorothy (Aitken) and Robert Hespen. Her childhood was filled with loving aunts and uncles, trips to Florida and adventures in South St. Louis. She made lifelong friends at Notre Dame High School and graduated in 1962.  

One of Susan’s first jobs was in concessions at the St. Louis Zoo. She met the love of her life while making snow cones, Ken worked as a “cage cleaner” in the Children’s Zoo. She married Air Force Second Lt. Kenneth Joseph Palucci on July 17, 1965 at the Church of St. Raphael the Archangel. The pair went on to welcome four children as a proud Air Force family. As Ken climbed the ranks, they moved to Montgomery (twice!) and Omaha before finally settling in Belleville and Scott Air Force Base. They stayed in Belleville even after Ken retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1988.  

As her children grew, she returned to work, first at Snively’s Teacher’s Pet Shop in West Belleville. Her next step took her to the Belleville News Democrat where she eventually became a manager in the classified advertising and obituary department. Sue loved being a mentor and friend to her many coworkers. She coordinated an annual Christmas party that include fun holiday activities and gifts and employees’ children. Her giant 2004 retirement party at the BND’s Illinois Street offices was a very happy memory her.  

Her hobby as a florist was a profitable one. Her family’s booth at the annual Christmas craft fair at the St. Clair County Fairgrounds was always a huge hit. Under the business name of ‘Black Eyed Susans’ she created beautiful event and wedding flowers for family and friends.  

Sue loved playing tennis and was grateful for the friendships she developed at St. Clair Tennis in O’Fallon, Illinois. She wasn’t the fastest player, but she didn’t need to be with her wicked forehand and cunning court strategy.  

Sue and Ken lived in Belleville for 46 years and were longtime members of the St. Peter’s Cathedral Parish. Sue enjoyed rich friendships in her Belleville neighborhood, especially with her “Bridge Club,” a group that got together regularly, but probably stopped playing bridge in the 1990’s! Sue retired early to enjoy traveling with Ken and spending time with her nine grandchildren. She was a seasoned carpool driver and classroom volunteer. She loved attending every game, performance, meet, pageant and match of her grandchildren.  

She and Ken enjoyed exploring their hometown of St. Louis. They were passionate about Cardinals baseball and attending games at Busch Stadium. As season ticket holders, they loved using the Redbird Express from Fairview Heights- sometimes just to go downtown for dinner! As the proud parents of four University of Missouri Tigers, they loved visiting Columbia and enduring the ups and downs of Mizzou Football… but they barely survived witnessing the fifth down at the ‘90 Colorado game!  

Sue was a nurturing friend and advocate. She loved loved animals, especially her childrens’ elderly dogs! She cared for stray cats and supported local spay and neuter efforts. She also supported reuse and recycling efforts and was a frequent thrift shopper as part of her recent job as a buyer with Radretro llc.  

Surviving Sue are her four children, Mary “Chrissy” (Joseph) Lamie of Millstadt, IL, Steven (Terri) Palucci of St. Louis, MO, Jennifer (Richard) Obertino, of Ladue, MO, and Jill (Jonathan) Pauly of St. Cloud, MN; nine grandchildren, Jack Lamie, Reid Lamie, Riley Obertino, Calvin Palucci, Olivia Pauly, Nathan Obertino, and her hat trick: Tyler Obertino, Sofia Pauly, and Chase Palucci. She’s also survived by her precious sisters Virginia “Ginny” Drewing and Lynn Hespen; beloved nieces and nephews, Gary and Sarah Drewing, Rusty and Shannon Drewing, Laura Roberson, Lynn Born, Cindy Anders, John Palucci, Joseph Schall, Mary Wingenbach, and Thomas Schall.  

In Sue’s honor, raise a glass of a Chardonnay (a nice vintage) at 5 o’clock, host Sunday dinners (even if it means trying new recipes like the infamous ‘Chicken Wonderful’), and travel to the beach with your family (especially if it includes hosting 32 people under one roof for a week).  

Funeral Mass will be Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. at Immacolata Catholic Church, 8900 Clayton Rd. Interment Resurrection Cemetery. Visitation Wed. Jan. 3rd from 5-7 p.m. at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Rd., Kirkwood. In lieu of flowers for Susan, friends are asked to make contributions to the Immacolata Parish St. Vincent de Paul campaign