On Saturday, August 25, Susan Watanabe, a longtime Brookside resident and former Brookside HOA president, passed away from a brain tumor. According to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Watanabe, widely known outside the neighborhood as a television writer (“Girfriends” and “One-on-One”) and activist, was born and raised in Chicago and earned degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is survived by her husband, David White, the national executive director of SAG-AFTRA, and her 9-year-old daughter, Sophia. A memorial service will be held on September 15 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Susan’s Circle, a foundation established by friends under the umbrella of the Liberty Hill Foundation.
In an obituary published Monday in Variety, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “Susan was a warrior with a gentle soul. Among her many noteworthy contributions to humanity, Susan changed lives as a social worker, community activist and curious spirit whose keen insight ultimately led to a career as a television writer.”
Susan served briefly as the president of the Brookside neighborhood association but stepped down when she became ill.
“It was a terrible loss for all of us,” Owen Smith, Brookside HOA past president told the Buzz. Smith had recruited Watanabe to serve on the neighborhood board because of her interest in the history of the neighborhood.
We at the Buzz were particularly honored to have known Susan, and to have counted her, for a brief time before her illness, as one of our community-based contributors. Susan loved her Brookside neighborhood and wanted to share the stories of her neighbors. She will be greatly missed.