Susan Solley

10/19/1944 - 12/4/2023


In loving memory of Susan Solley, who gracefully departed this world in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 4, 2023. Her mischievous wink and infectious laughter brightened all of our lives.

Born on October 19, 1944 in Texas to Earl and LaReine Solley, Susan lived a life bursting with vivacity, humor, and an insatiable appetite for fun.

Her forever active social life began in Preston, Idaho, where she earned a reputation for turning mundane moments into unforgettable adventures, and her mischievous spirit knew no bounds, from creative wardrobe modifications to impromptu fainting spells, just to change the subject and get a rise.

Susan continued onto the University of Idaho briefly before moving to Texas with her parents. In 1968, she moved to San Diego, where she met her husband Mike Yawman. They created a network of quirky friends on Mission Beach, lived there for most of the 70's. Stories from that period are not appropriate for the newspaper but if you have heard them you'd agree it sounds like a great time! They moved to Grants Pass, Oregon in 1978, where they lived in a van and spent much of their free time exploring the Pacific coast with their dog Jiggers. After hearing of a "cool town" named Port Townsend, they moved there in 1984, rented a Victorian barn house from dear friends, and brought their daughter Jennifer Jane into the world. They then settled down and built a home in North Beach. 

Susan earned a Master Gardener's certificate, and grew sumptuous edible gardens, along with many varieties of flowers. Her roses and dahlias were blue ribbon winners at Jefferson County Fair for many years in the 1990’s. With a group of friends, she formed a womens running team called "Eat and Run," whose Mount Rainier-to-Pacific relay race was a seasonal main event. The team then took on competitive rowing, where they re-named themselves "Tough as Nails", womanning the classic wooden shell they raced in a San Diego crew classic in 2004 and 2005.

For more than 30 years, Susan was a mainstay of Port Townsend retail. First working at the Green Eyeshade, then for the remainder of her retail career at Earthenworks, where she arranged elaborate window displays, ordered the most fetching accessories in town, and encouraged customers to dress to impress. We all fondly remember Susan's style, smile, and ready wit, the doyenne of downtown PT.

During the 90's she served as a legendary Kinetic Skulpture Race judge, each year portraying some form of "Barbie'' character. It was at this time, Susan was rumored to be working for the CIA.

In addition to having a day job, Susan was natural onstage. In '96 she landed a role in Key City Players' "Christmas Carol, " went on to appear in numerous productions over the years such as "Dark of the Moon" and "Madwoman of Chaillot", and in 2007 toured with a group of local actors to Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the play "A Gap in Generations", and otherwise worked as street performers.

In '09, she took a playwriting workshop at Paradise Theater School, which launched her true passion: story telling. She wrote and produced many one-acts, including "Farm in the Neighborhood, " first place winner in the 2010 PT Playwright's competition. Her radio comedy series "The Port Ludlow Project" still airs on KPTZ and is a lasting reminder of her snappy and often hilarious in-person style.

Susan lives in the laughter still shared by Jennifer Jane, son-in-law Ryan Houlihan, cousins Mike and Connie Stewart, and the countless friends and neighbors who have shared in her adventurous lifetime. She bid us farewell, but her Spirit dances in the sparkling memories she has left us. Whether cracking jokes at the best (and arguably worst) time, or pulling pranks on unsuspecting friends, she is deeply missed.

A Celebration of Susan's life will be held on August 4, 2024 at the Palindrome in Port Townsend, to thank her for all that she meant and still means to us.

A woman of unending talents, with a rabbit hole of friends and stories, it is truly impossible to include everything here. Let us honor her legacy by embracing each moment with the same boundless enthusiasm and good humor that defined her essence. Let us raise a glass to Susan Solley, a beacon of light. May her laughter echo, reminding us to live life to the fullest. Cheers to you, Susan.