Susan Kresse Cole


Susan Kresse Cole (“Suzie,” or “Susie”), 69, of Harbor Homes on New York Ave. in Oak Bluffs, died on Jan. 18, 2024, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. 

Susan was born on August 20, 1954, at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Nyack, N.Y., the daughter of Elizabeth (Bette) Cole and David Soutter Cole. Susan lived with her family at first in Pearl River, N.Y. She began skiing at the age of 4 at Silver Mine Ski Area in Bear Mountain State Park, and continued skiing every winter until she moved to Hawaii. Childhood summers were spent on Martha’s Vineyard, and at her grandparents’ camp on Gordon Lake. Her love of swimming, snorkeling, and being on a beach continued throughout her life.

Her family built a home in Upper Saddle River, N.J., where she formed lifelong friendships. After high school she attended Peter’s Valley School of Art, and discovered a passion for making jewelry. From 1986 to 1988 she attended the Kulicke – Stark Academy of Jewelry Art, and studied the technique of granulation. Susan also attended the New York School of Jewelry, and created many beautiful pieces that won her awards at the Agricultural Fair on the Vineyard. 

Throughout her life, Susan considered Martha’s Vineyard her home base. Her friends and life revolved around the Black Dog, culminating in the decorating and the beginnings of the Admiral Benbow Inn. A move to California, and then to Hawaii, meant that with the love of her life and the love of the ocean, she began another Island life. Once there, Susan worked as a luau hostess, and in the food industry. A return to the Vineyard brought her back home for the past eight years, when she lived in West Tisbury and then Oak Bluffs.

Her friends and family will miss and remember her enthusiasm for life, her great sense of humor, and her independent spirit. She was a wild beauty, and moved with passion and creativity in a life filled with an eye for fashion and design.

She is survived by her loving sister, Barbara Conkling and Doug, of Canaan, N.Y.; her godson and nephew, Jonathan Conkling and wife Trisha, and grand-niece Elizabeth, also of Canaan; her nephews, David Conkling and wife Colleen, and grand-niece Calliope, of South Salem, N.Y., and Daniel and wife Wen Li, and grand-niece Robin, of Edmonds, Wash.; and her niece, Kathryn Conkling and partner Micah Stanovsky, of Whidbey Island, Wash. She is also survived by her stepmother, Peggy Cole, of Mahwah, N.J., who loved her as a daughter; and her extended family, Debbie Murphy, Nancy Ruffino (Richard), and Duffy Lewis (Peggy), and by her longstanding, faithful friend, Doreen Marino of Oak Bluffs. Susan was predeceased by her father, David Cole, of Mahwah; her mother, Bette Cole, of Oak Bluffs; her life partner, Craig Bowman, of Kona, Hawaii; her stepbrother, Chris Lewis, of Fort Lee, N.J., and Anais, a Bouvier des Flandres, who was Susan’s best dog companion ever.

The family is eternally grateful for the love and support that was given to Susan by the staff at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

A memorial service and reception will be held on Feb. 10 at 3 pm at Harbor Homes, 111 New York Ave., in Oak Bluffs for friends and family. The Rev. Cathlin Baker will officiate at a service before the reception.


  1. Susie was a coworker for a few summers at Kitchen Porch , she had a wonderful spirit and sense of humor and was a hard worker and even while battling her illness, she was determined to work. She was a beautiful soul and I will miss her and offer her family and friends my sincerest condolences for the passing of dear Susie.

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