Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Susan Spencer-Wendel, whose book chronicled life with Lou Gehrig's disease, dies at 47

FILE - In this Dec 27, 2012, file photo, Susan Spencer-Wendel poses for a photo in Palm Beach County, Fla. Spencer-Wendel, a Florida writer who turned her mission to live joyfully while battling Lou Gherig's disease into a best-selling book died Wednesday morning, June 4, 2014, her husband John said. She was 47. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, J. Gwen Berry) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES

Enlarge Image

FILE - In this Dec 27, 2012, file photo, Susan Spencer-Wendel poses for a photo in Palm Beach County, Fla. Spencer-Wendel, a Florida writer who turned her mission to live joyfully while battling Lou Gherig's disease into a best-selling book died Wednesday morning, June 4, 2014, her husband John said. She was 47. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, J. Gwen Berry) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Susan Spencer-Wendel, the writer whose bestselling book "Until I Say Goodbye" chronicled her fight to live joyfully as she battled Lou Gehrig's disease, died Wednesday at her Florida home, her husband John Wendel said. She was 47.

Spencer-Wendel was a well-regarded court reporter for The Palm Beach Post when she first noticed a change in her health in 2009. It would be two years before she was diagnosed, but by then she had made up her mind: She would live her remaining days as best she could, travel the places she dreamed of going and complete a long goodbye to those she loved.

She went to California to find her birth mother; to New York, where her teenage daughter tried on wedding dresses for a glimpse of a day they'll never share; to Budapest, where she and her husband retraced footsteps of an earlier life; to the Yukon, in a vain attempt to see the Northern Lights with her lifelong best friend; to the Caribbean, to Cyprus, and on and on.

Along the way, she wrote stories about two of her trips for the Post that were so heartbreakingly recorded they caught the eye of HarperCollins, which gave her a $2.3 million deal, and Universal Pictures, which followed with a seven-figure offer of its own.

She sprinted to continue her travels and to put them in writing, tapping out the vast majority of her book, "Until I Say Goodbye," on her iPhone using just her right thumb. After its release last year, it briefly hit the bestseller lists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Publisher's Weekly.

Susan Spencer was born Dec. 28, 1966, in Fort Lauderdale.

Her book managed to be at once heartbreaking and humorous, filled with turns of phrase that earned laughs even as the overarching story was a sorrowful goodbye. She reveled in the attention even as her body slowly withered away.

Aside from her husband, Spencer-Wendel is survived by three children, Marina, 16; Aubrey, 12; and Wesley, 10; her father, Tom Spencer; and a sister, Stephanie Parlamento. Wendel said his wife "managed, to the very end, to be very positive."

She said she was grateful she was not a born a guitarist, as she lost use of her hands, or a dancer, as she lost use of her legs. She continued to write to the very end, using her nose to type final messages.

"I am not gone," she wrote in her book. "I have today. I have more to give. I know the end is coming but do not despair."

___

Follow Matt Sedensky on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sedensky

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media