A Daily Example and Inspiration: Remembering Suzanne Ahnell ’82

The fountain nestled between the Winchester Center and Massie Hall is a feast for the senses. Located in a beautiful garden bordered by fragrant pine trees, the soothing sound of flowing water and an occasional spray of water on a hot summer day make the landmark one of the most inviting places on campus.

Dedicated in 1988 to the memory of Suzanne Ahnell ’82 (1957-1984), the garden and fountain were provided by her family and friends, and the walkway by the Class of 1986. The College renovated the garden this summer, and an anonymous donor provided new lighting in honor of Suzanne’s father, Dr. Emil Ahnell, in various colors for different occasions – including KWC purple. Dr. Ahnell is a professor emeritus of music and taught at Wesleyan from 1958-2001.

Kirsten Ahnell, Suzanne’s sister, remembers Suzanne’s keen mind, determination and sheer hard work. Suzanne became ill at 16 with a spinal tumor which left her quadriplegic. Determined to earn a college degree, she graduated from KWC after seven years of study. Because she could not write for herself, a nurse accompanied her to classes and took notes, and Suzanne turned textbook pages with a page turner held in her mouth. Her dad carried Suzanne up three flights of stairs to her classes, as there was no elevator in the building in those years. She earned a B.A. in German and sociology with a minor in psychology.

Suzanne was honored by the College with induction to the prestigious Order of Oak and Ivy.

“Her zeal to live and further her education was incredibly amazing,” remembers Kirsten. “She was my hero and is still my daily inspiration.”