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Subject: Susan Brinkley dies at 76

Widow of Journalist David Brinkley (died 2003)
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Date Posted: Saturday, June 22, 06:57:51pm


Susan Melanie Brinkley, a "grander-than-life" personality, renowned Washington, DC hostess and gourmet cook died at her home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on June 2, 2019 from complications of ALS. She was 76. Mrs. Brinkley and her husband, the universally respected and admired TV journalist David Brinkley, lived at the epicenter of political and media power circles in Washington from the 1970s through the 1990s. While Mr. Brinkley was known for his biting political commentary, penned to hold powerful people accountable, Mrs. Brinkley was known for her magical skills in bringing people together. A proficient epicure, who studied cooking in New York with Julia Child and James Beard. She believed great food served in beautiful surroundings made people relax and open-up. A columnist once wrote, after a dinner that she and Meredith Brokaw hosted at the Brinkley's, "these days the best dishes in town are not prepared at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the Carters go to bed early, but in Susan Brinkley's tiny kitchen." Her dinner parties were always subject to two inflexible rules for guests in her home: "conversation had to respect all points of view, and everything was off the record." In those days, Sally Quinn might have referred to Mrs. Brinkley's rules as rules for a "safe house." Mrs. Brinkley's strict requirement that her guests observe her rules was one of the many reasons why her guests frequently included Sally Quinn, her husband, Ben Bradlee, Kay Graham, the Kissingers, Sam Donaldson, Jan Smith, Bob Strauss and Jack Valenti (among many others). In the 1980s, she co-founded a home couture company just as more Americans were discovering the customized fine linens that she loved and wanted to share. In later years, Mrs. Brinkley took over negotiations of her husband's television network and book contracts. Mrs. Brinkley was born Susan Benfer in Hamilton, Ohio. Her father, John G. Benfer, an educator, later became an assistant superintendent of schools in Northport, L.I. Her mother, Elsie Espenschied Benfer, was a nurse. Mrs. Brinkley attended Ohio State University before moving to Washington, DC with her first husband. Their daughter, Alexis, was born in 1969. The marriage later ended in divorce. In 1971, she met David Brinkley at a party thrown by his TV colleague, John Chancellor. Ten months later, on June 10, 1972, they were married at Colonial Williamsburg, Va. where David, always the historian, was a trustee. "From an early age, Susan exhibited the flair and style that later became her hallmark," recalled Marjorie Federbush, a lifelong friend who first met Susan in kindergarten." As an adult, Susan was gracious and elegant, her deep-toned voice compelling. People adored her; they were charmed by her candor and her caring." "She was exceedingly generous, often magnanimous," affirmed her daughter Alexis. "If anyone she knew needed something, out came her checkbook." Mrs. Brinkley travelled widely. She and Mr. Brinkley visited China with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife, Nancy, soon after Mr. Kissinger was instrumental in negotiating détente with China. The Brinkleys continued to travel the world together. In the 1980s, they went on safari in Africa, and Mrs. Brinkley fell in love with that continent. She would return to Africa many times, making bi-annual trips to see wildlife on safari and visit friends made in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Mr. Brinkley died in 2003. Mrs. Brinkley is survived by her daughter, Alexis, and son-in-law, Jeremiah Collins; a step-son, Forbes writer John Brinkley and his wife, Kate Brinkley. She was also survived by step-son, Alan Brinkley, the historian, and his wife, Evangeline Morphos. Since the time of Mrs. Brinkley's death, Alan Brinkley died on the 16th of June. Another step-son, journalist Joel Brinkley, died in 2014. Mrs. Brinkley is also survived by seven granddaughters: Katie Brinkley, Elly Brinkley, Maeve Goodman, Charlotte Brinkley, Veronica Brinkley, Camilla Collins and Cristiana Collins. Her sister, Mary Jo Brady, lives in Phoenix, Az. Mrs. Brinkley chose cremation and asked that her ashes be divided to bury with her late husband, David, as well as scattered over Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Her family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The ALS Association in memory of Susan Brinkley.Mrs. Brinkley chose cremation and asked that her ashes be divided to bury with her late husband, David, as well as scattered over Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Her family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The ALS Association in memory of Susan Brinkley

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Her stepson, historian Alan Brinkley just died earlier this week. He died of dementia at age 70. (NT).Saturday, June 22, 07:52:58pm
Wow, she was over 20 years younger that Mr. B! (NT)His 1st wife (divorced) Flora Ann Fischer Brinkley died in 1996, at 75.Saturday, June 22, 08:00:20pm

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