Bland, Susan Renee Kesner
Susan Kesner Bland, of Ithaca, died Tuesday, January 15, at the age of 62. She was cherished for her absolute love, sweetness, devotion to the people and things she cared about, ability to keep things in perspective, and mischievous wit, and she will be missed by many. Susan was born in the Bronx, NY on July 15, 1950 and grew up in Whitestone, Queens, NY. She attended the Flushing Manor School, Bleeker Junior High School, and Flushing High School, where she excelled academically and all of her teachers loved her. She was also a talented piano player and spent many hours of her childhood making music. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in French and secondary education from Queens College in 1971, a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from New York University in 1974, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University in 1985. Susan was a recognized expert in the teaching of English as a second language (ESL). She served as a teacher, teacher trainer, and materials developer in the ESL field for nearly forty years. Susan was a particularly important and innovative contributor to the development of ways to make grammar more teachable and learnable for ESL teachers and students. She was the author and series director for numerous grammar textbooks published by Oxford University Press, with over 600,000 copies of these books in circulation. Susan delivered teacher training workshops throughout the US and the world to teachers of ESL at language institutes, universities, community colleges, and public secondary schools. She was a frequent invited speaker at national and state meetings of TESOL, the organization for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and published extensively in TESOL journals and TESOL-related publications. Susan was a junior faculty member in Germanic Languages at the Catholic University of Leuven, where she worked with Professor Emma Vorlat; an assistant professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College; and an instructor at LaGuardia Community College, Queens College, Binghamton University, and Cornell. Over the course of her career, Susan also directed summer training for Cornell foreign language teaching assistants; taught courses on the structure of English, language teaching theory/methods, introductory linguistics, and intermediate French; and published important articles on computer-aided language learning. While living with cancer, she continued until near the end to teach academic writing through a TC3 program for international graduate students at Cornell because she loved to be in the classroom, she loved the students, and she knew they greatly appreciated the contributions she made to their academic and professional development. She often received e-mails from former students expressing their gratitude for her influence on them. The same qualities that helped Susan become a skilled and effective teacher also deeply enriched her relationships as a wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend. She was appreciated and admired for her ability to listen and really understand, her patience, her thoughtfulness and compassion, her generosity of time and spirit, and her articulate and straightforward way of talking through a question or idea or challenge. Susan took great joy in simple pleasures, among them working in her gardens, playing with her dog, taking long walks, cooking favorite meals, reading, and having long and animated conversations with family and friends. She also found fulfillment in volunteering, and she contributed her time and talents to numerous groups and organizations. She was particularly invested in her work on behalf of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, the Obama campaign, and, earlier, the ICSD PTA Council, school committees, and PTA activities in the Ithaca schools that her children attended. She is lovingly survived by her husband, Robert; daughter, Jenny; and son, Scott; her brother, Howard Kesner and his wife Jody; her sister, Debra Mayo and her husband Steve; and her nephew, Eric Mayo and niece Rachel Mayo. She was predeceased by her parents, Sam and Bess Kesner. Funeral services will be held at Temple Beth-El, 402 N. Tioga St., Ithaca, on Thursday, January 17, 2013, at 2:00 p.m., with interment immediately following at Lakeview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in her memory may be made to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, 612 W. State St., Ithaca, NY 14850. Arrangements are by the Bangs Funeral Home.