In Memory of Susan Wirth

(Image from the Long Island Pen Show Web Site, circa 2009)

On Monday afternoon, the pen community received devastating news that Susan Wirth, the Godmother of Pen Shows, Queen of Ink, and someone I like to think of as a friend, passed away.

My “word of the day” today was “moxie” and it couldn’t be a more appropriate word to remember Susan because she had it in spades. Courage, nerve, pep and know-how… that’s how the word moxie is defined and it’s exactly how I would describe Susan Wirth. She had a wealth of knowledge about fountain pens that she was willing to share and fearless courage and energy that put people half her age to shame.

She held court on Sunday in Chicago with all the verve and passion that we all remember her having so I am glad to know that she did not suffer long and that her last days were happy, doing what she loved, surrounded by people that “got her” and sharing her knowledge and passions.

According to announcements on the Pen Addict Announcements, there will be a family service in Milwaukee next week. An obituary will published on Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

There will be a pen show memorial at the DC pen show in August this year. More details will become available as the event comes closer.

I’d like to collect images, stories or anecdotes to put together a book to share in DC. If you have photos or a story you’d like to contribute, please email them to me at I’d be most grateful.

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23 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh my , I’m so saddened by this. Paul and I had only met her about 3 times but already she was already a friend . We were impressed with her concepts of how a pen must fit the writer. She will be missed .

  2. What a loss! I just met Susan this last Saturday at the Chicago Pen Show, my first ever, when I sat in her seminar to learn about choosing the right pen for your writing style. She provided every seminar attendee with individual guidance in choosing the best nib for them. One can’t even begin to think of the countless fountain pen users in the community she has advised over the years. I will be forever grateful for her assistance in the early days of my assuredly life long passion for pens and ink. Because of her, I already feel more confident in choosing nibs and investing in the best pens I can afford. She was surely one of a kind and will be missed!

    1. Hi Linea…I was also in Susan’s seminar with you last Saturday at the Chicago Pen Show. A unique performance, beginning with the ‘echelon’ table arrangement she directed from us, to bring us all closer to her. She loved the ‘italic’ nib, and spent time with each of us, showing us how much one of her italic pens improved our writing.

      Since I’d purchased an italic-nib Bexley pen from her the previous year, I was an enthusiastic listener. She even went so far as to seize my Bexley, eject half of the ink into a plastic cup, and draw in water back into the converter! But since her help, that Bexley has written flawlessly. She was a wise, generous and fun person. Future pen shows just won’t be the same.

    2. Did she happen to explain when she would recommend a stub vs italic nib or even cursive italic? Always wanted to ask her but sadly, ran out of time. A real treasure.

  3. Thank you, Ana. I’ll spread the news of the related events in the places I’ve posted about Susan’s passing, and with your permission I’ll give a link to this blog post with an indication about the stories and photos.

    I have already seen that the people of the San Francisco Pen Posse are going to dedicate one of their gatherings to Suzie-stories and stuff, so I’ll let them know.

    There’s a big, inky, messy, clangorous and jovial hole in the fabric of the universe right now. For the life of me I can’t think of a way to patch it up, save for remembering what a grand lady Susan was. Drink up and laugh hearty!


  4. Oh! I am very sorry to hear that. Although I never met her, never met any of you in person, pen community is quite important. She will be missed…

  5. Very sad to hear this. John’s adjectives summed up my reaction perfectly. I always looked forward to seeing her in L.A., and I bought my first vintage pen from her–a 1st-gen Lamy 2K–followed by a nice flexy Conklin a few years later. She was better than perhaps anyone else at watching you write and suggesting a pen/nib that would work for you, and she kept trying to warn me off EF flexies, telling me my all-caps writing was made for stubs (she wasn’t wrong), but ultimately relented.

  6. I am greatly saddened at the news. I’ve known Susan for about 5 years now and worked at her booth for 2 years. She has always been generous with her time and knowledge with all who worked with her and all who stopped by her booth. I join with all the others before me to say that she will be sadly missed.
    Rest in peace Susan! I know that you are teaching the angels about pens!

  7. I met Susan at my first pen show. I was in a bit of a daze looking at all those lovely pens as I walked around. I was in the back of the room when Susan came over to me, and asked if I would watch her booth while she went back to her room to retrieve something. I said yes and off she went. I knew practically nothing about pens and she didn’t know me at all, but she came back to her booth after about 20 minutes, we introduced ourselves to each other and became friends immediately. I have told that story numerous times and each time she became more endearing to me. I will miss her, oh, so very much.

    1. The world in general became a lesser place. I don’t know Susan through pens but as a co-worker at The Dieringer Research Group. She, indeed, left everyone feeling better for having known her. Miss you Susan.

  8. She will be sorely missed by all at the pen shows where she had been to my knowledge the mainstay since my first show in Chicago in the mid 1980s. I well remember walking around the night time streets with her in our crowd after the Siena show!

  9. Susan was my “little” sister, born when I was 14, and she was adored by her three brothers. She excelled and won prizes for performances on the piano, the cello, and the bassoon.

    The family is grateful for the outpouring of tributes from hundreds of her fellow pen show devotees. Susan loved all of you, and the pen shows, where teaching was far more important than selling.

    We love you Susan!

  10. I met Susan,in the Kate 8O’s, She was a great Lady, She knew everything about the “Pen vendors” if I wanted to riend.get up-to-date on pen Shows, Susan will know.I left the pen show for several years, I will look for some pics. I have some of Her..She was great Pen person and good friend.

    1. For anyone and everyone interested in all things, Susan, you may want to check out her Facebook Memorial page. Oh, and just so everyone knows, Gustavo Rodriguez was one of the first custom nib grinders on the Pen Show circuit. Glad to have met him in Dallas. Also, special thanks to Bob and Ana for their tremendous support during this sad time. Memories will always remain if we pass them on to the future.

  11. I am greatly saddened by this. With the passing of Susan Wirth, a certain light is now gone from the pen community and pen shows. Her corner of the pen show was always a lively one.

  12. I am greatly saddened to know that I will never see Susan again or hear her warm, gravelly voice. She was so vital, so knowledgeable, and so willing to share her knowledge. Visiting her tables has been a highlight of every pen show I’ve attended for ten years. May she rest in peace.

  13. I wish I had attended pen shows earlier so I could met her in person or attended one of her seminars. But I do appreciate those of you who had posted You Tube footage of her. She is very fascinating and I know was a wonderful mentor to many fountain pen lovers.

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