Suzanne Louise Harris, a life-long St. Louisan, died on January 23, 2023, at 100 years old. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 13, 1922, to Marie Belle, née Brownlow, and Charles S. Wallace as the eldest of three children. She was also a proud graduate of the Summer High School Class of 1941.
As a young lady during WWII, she passed the stringent prescreening criteria to become a volunteer USO hostess. The most important qualifications were to be considered sexually respectable, and to have charm and beauty—she was indeed a beautiful woman. As a hostess, along with other hostesses, Suzanne attended chaperoned USO dances to entertain and boost the morale of BLACK servicemen at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks. On weekends, these young ladies would travel together by bus, driven by a minister, to dine and dance with the servicemen stationed away from home. After dinner, cots were set up in private quarters for the young ladies to sleep overnight. The following morning, after breakfast with the servicemen, the hostesses returned by bus to St. Louis. There were very strict rules for behavior during these morale boosting excursions, and the young ladies were warned away from romance with words like, “The boys have a lot of things on their minds, and you are probably not one of them!”
Despite that, like many others, Suzanne met her husband, Frederick John Hamilton, Jr., while volunteering as a USO hostess. Fred and Suzanne married May 19, 1943, in St. Louis, before moving together to live in Orlando, Florida, near the segregated military base where he served. Her close encounters with racial segregation and hatred in Florida, prompted her return to St. Louis. She had two sons, John and Sanford, and volunteered as their Cub Scout Den Mother.
In 1962, she married her second husband Robert Franklin Harris.
Suzanne, known by family and friends as Louise, worked as a registrar in medical records at the former Union Sarah Health Clinic, as a salesperson for Goodwill, and for numerous other service organizations. She began regularly attending All Saints Episcopal Church, as a young adult with her young sons and continued after its merger, to become The Episcopal Church of All Saints and Ascension, until her mobility began to fail.
Louise loved living in the city and was well-known by the people in her Fountain Park Neighborhood, originally known as the Aubert Place Subdivision. It was very bittersweet, when the time came for her to move from her beloved old neighborhood, to be closer to her family in North St. Louis County. She continued living independently until age 97, moving to assisted living just a few months before the Covid-19 shutdown. When she turned 100 last year, her family gathered, some from afar and a few on Zoom, to celebrate with her.
For many years, Suzanne enjoyed pet parakeets. Also, she was an avid reader, especially of romance novels, and an indoor gardener who enjoyed collecting unusual “odd” houseplants—the more unusual, the better.
Suzanne was preceded to glory by her beloved younger siblings, Elizabeth Wallace Jackson and Henry B. Wallace; three of her beloved grandchildren, Cory A. Hamilton, Viola L. Hamilton, and John F. Hamilton, Jr.; and a beloved nephew Tyler O. Meeks.
To cherish her memory, she is survived by her dearly loved sons, John F. Hamilton and Sanford L. Hamilton, their wives, Vicki R. Hamilton and Nancy P. Hamilton, and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and many others who loved her and considered her family.
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