Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from my friend Joe Simparosa. He had called to deliver the sad news of the death of Susan Mallison, former Director of Documentation and Training at Henter-Joyce and, later, Freedom Scientific. I have no details about the situation other than she had been attending work as recently as a month ago and that she died in a local hospital.
For those of you “old timers” who remember when the JAWS Basic Training Tapes were really more like the “Eric and Ted Show,” that sounded like they were recorded on a boom box and would include passages where Eric would show the user how to change their Windows color scheme and Ted would ask why a blind person would care to do so, you will undoubtedly remember when Susan joined HJ and started turning the giant ship of documentation and training around.
Her efforts and the solid team she kept moving forward took what was a very amateur, albeit entertaining, set of text and tapes and turned them into the best documentation any AT product has in the world. Not only did Susan turn the JAWS documentation around but she also got the entire FS product line in shape as far as the documentation and training was included. Susan’s group also took responsibility for translating the technical support notices from the odd English dialect spoken and written by programmers, testers and technical support specialists into the English spoken by most people.
In her tenure at HJ/FS, Susan also brought many intangibles and helped mentor younger managers and offered a lot of ideas in many areas outside of her department. I’m sure the FS people will miss her tremendously.
On a more personal note, I remember Susan being someone with whom one could always share a joke, who could always help you find the silver lining in the dark cloud and who could carry on a conversation about many, many things. Susan was an avid golfer and even went so far as to buy the Tiger Woods edition of the car she drove. She would often talk about playing 36 or more holes in a weekend and was a regular in local women’s tournaments.
Lastly, on my last day at FS, Susan gave me the tightest hug and promised me that everything would turn out for the best. I last talked to her about a year ago while I was working on a chapter for a book on AT and had some questions for her, I wished I had spent more time with Susan as she was a terrific teacher and great person.