A welcome home party was held on the evening of Dec. 13, 2023, and Mrs. Susan Ann “Sue” Dickey (née Flathau) was the guest of honor. No doubt she was received by Jesus with much jubilation and then immediately went to drag Bill out on the divine dance floor.
This heavenly reunion was surely better than any of the countless parties she had planned on Earth: more enjoyable than any surprise birthday party or holiday feast, more fun than the get-togethers in Bill’s office while the Grand Haven Coast Guard parade passed by below, better than the bacchanalian New Year’s Eve bashes in the basement, and even surpassing the Madeira Beach boat parade parties for which she would decorate the house and dock, get out the special Christmas dishes, and bake hundreds of cookies (carefully hidden from the marauding hands of Bill and the girls). For this party in heaven, she didn’t have to lock her little brothers out of the house to clean up, nor did she have to send out handcrafted invitations, plan a menu and games, or wash dishes afterward!
Of course born on a holiday, Sue arrived New Year’s Day in 1941 to John Carl “Jack” and Geraldine “Peggy” Flathau in Battle Creek, Mich. She spent the next eight decades displaying her fun personality, whether working as a roller-skating carhop, driving her Corvette with the top down (the car’s, not hers), or embarrassing the heck out of her daughters by practicing for her belly-dancing classes in a skimpy costume in front of the living room windows. She loved to dance and knew all the steps to the Cha-Cha Slide, the Macarena, and more.
Sue’s dance partner for life was William Robert “Bill” Dickey. From their wedding on Sept. 1, 1962, until his death in 2021, Bill mostly tolerated his wife’s gregariousness and is probably once again awkwardly holding her hand while she literally dances circles around him. Sue was the consummate entertainer, but would also happily trade a big, boisterous party for a quiet evening of competitive and argumentative Scrabble or Monopoly with just a few people.
But Sue was not all fun and games; she was a hard worker, too. She honed her leadership and conflict resolution skills raising her daughters and managing Bill’s life law practice in Grand Haven, Mich. and then in Seminole, Fla. A career in human resources naturally followed, with people paying her to tell them what to do. While working full-time and active in HR peer associations, she also finished her college degree and proudly graduated (with distinction) at age 56.
Sue rose through the ranks at Allied Specialty Insurance, Inc. until she became their vice president, a position from which she finally retired so that she could spend more time having fun with Bill. Together they roamed the country in their RV, traveled the world on cruise ships, and especially spent time with their beloved grandsons.
After Bill’s passing in 2021, she moved to Cape Charles to be near her daughter, Karen, where she made a new squad of friends and quickly became everybody’s favorite church lady. Despite not feeling well, she was on her way to her grandson’s wedding in Guatemala but only made it as far as her other daughter’s house in Fort Wayne, Ind. During her short hospital stay, she maintained her sense of humor, telling both Karla and Karen that each was her favorite child and asking visitors to go away because she felt that she could not be properly hospitable while wearing only a hospital gown.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; her brother, John Carl Flathau II; as well as her parents and others. Sue is probably organizing a committee of angels and directing some heavenly projects, getting every detail ready for the time when she will give a warm welcome to her daughters, Karla (Ignacio) Avila and Karen (Chris) Willis; grandsons, John Carlos Avila, Christopher (Briana) Willis, William Roberto (Kaleela) Avila, Kevin Willis, and Colvin Willis; brother, Brent (Doryan) Flathau; and many dear family members and friends who miss her terribly.
All friends, family, and any strangers who happen to be nearby are invited to a celebration of Sue’s life at Capeville United Methodist Church in Cape Charles on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 11:30 a.m., with a party following the service.
Sue was passionate about the mission of her church to improve the lives of those living on the Shore. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent in her memory to Capeville UMC, c/o H.H. Scott, 4301 Capeville Drive, Cape Charles, VA 23310.
She will be interred next to Bill at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Battle Creek (with another celebration, of course) in the spring; more details will follow.