In Loving Memory of Katha Diddel-Sussman '79, P'13

Women's Leadership Council member Nancy Fuld Neff '76, P'06, P'14 pays tribute to fellow Council member Katha Diddel-Sussman
(October 11, 1957 - March 25, 2014)

In Memory of Katha

"When I received word that Katha had passed away, my first thought was “This is a mistake; it simply cannot be.  She is the most vibrant woman I know.”  However, when this unbelievable tragedy became reality, my emotions fluctuated between overwhelming sadness for the beautiful family she adored, disbelief that someone as full of vitality could leave our world this quickly, and disappointment that those of us in the “sisterhood” of the Women's Leadership Council could not tell her how much we loved and admired her.

I have known Katha and her family since I was six years old.  Her older sister and I were close friends through childhood and also at Brown, while one of her older brothers was my doubles partner (tennis) in high school.  Katha was the fourth child in the Diddel family, the cute “little sister” who was always trying to join the activities of her older siblings.  How ironic that she was the one with whom I became close, mostly due to our work together on the WLC.  We also shared a passion for sports – Katha excelled in squash and tennis at Brown and then became a phenomenal marathoner and triathlete up until her death.  Looking back, I marvel that she competed (and so successfully) while battling lung cancer, a struggle of which we were all unaware.  To know Katha was to know joy, ebullience, energy and intelligence.  After the first hello at our WLC meetings, she would delve into stories about her remarkable children, including Thompson who good-naturedly “diversified” our otherwise all-female dinners with his presence and charm.  Then one heard about the results of her latest sports adventure, a new business initiative and most recently, the indescribable joy at her marriage to David.  Her creativity was ever-present as was her embrace of life, which was palpable to those she touched with her warmth and generous spirit.                       

A few days ago, I found an old message on my phone with Katha’s voice.  Although initially stunned, it was wonderful to hear that upbeat voice – one whose enthusiasm could not be dampened by illness, a horrific skiing accident or life’s other challenges.  We each feel the loss of Katha in our own personal way, but collectively we were enormously fortunate to have worked with her, laughed with her, benefitted from her wisdom and business acumen, and shared in her adventurous exuberance for life.  Katha’s voice lives on with the innumerable memories of her contributions to Brown and her beautiful friendship." -Nancy Neff on April 4, 2014.

Katha pictured here with her husband David Sussman
Katha pictured here with her husband David Sussman at the 2012 Triathlon World Championships in Auckland New Zealand. (Opening Ceremonies - Team USA - Parade of the Nations)


Katha was a vibrant member of our Brown community. She was actively involved with and dedicated to the Women’s Leadership Council and was helping with the planning to celebrate her 35th reunion with classmates this May. In addition, Katha co-founded the Brown Club of Hong Kong, was an exemplary Women’s Launch Pad mentor and passionate about all her volunteer roles University wide.

Please keep Katha's children, Paul, Thompson, Kiki, and husband David Sussman, friends and extended Brown family in your thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. Obituary for Katha Diddel-Sussman