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Susan Doris Raff

Passed June 26, 2021

Susan Doris Raff

Passed June 26, 2021

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Obituary For Susan Doris Raff

Susan Doris Sternberg Raff, 74, died at her home unexpectedly on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Born in the Bronx in 1946, she was the second of four children born to Charlotte “Gog” Siegelman Sternberg and Milton Sternberg, and married her soulmate, Howard F. Raff, on Valentine’s Day, 1971.

Susan’s first job was at her father’s bakery, Michelle’s, in Long Island. She and her siblings, Michael, Emily and Steven all worked at the bakery, packaging fresh-baked goods for the residents of Plainview and beyond. She was born in the Bronx and grew up in Jericho, treasuring time spent with her family at Long Beach.

Sue made friends wherever she went. She’d go into a fruit stand, where she’d wandered in to buy fresh plums, and come out with plans to see the cashier the following week for lunch. She could be relied upon to grab the microphone at any event, turning every gathering into an opportunity for karaoke. No one was surprised to see her on stage at her niece Maddy’s wedding, though she wasn’t part of the band and hadn’t been invited to participate.
In 1993, she was honored by Jericho High School as part of their Hall of Fame. Susan was one of a few female executives in the retail department store industry, working first at Alexander’s in Valley Stream, Long Island (where she met Howard) and then Bamberger’s and Macy’s, as well as a stint for Ross Stores. Her Macy’s connections ran deep, and there are more than a few people reading this that will let you know she got them into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade over the years, whether they were marching as clowns or waving from a float.

The first time she met Howard, she had a phone to her ear at Alexander’s, where they both worked. He says he should have known then what he was in for – constant contact with everyone she’d ever met. The two moved from Queens to Old Bridge (NJ), Manalapan (NJ), Jackson (NJ), Poinciana (FL) and Raleigh (NC.) They had two daughters, Allison and Lisa. When they retired in Florida, Susan and Howard volunteered at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, bringing smiles to countless families. When GKTW celebrated their renovations in 2014 on Good Morning America, eagle-eyed viewers spied Susan front and center on screen, right behind the hosts of the show.

A passionate reader, she was involved in several book clubs (including the Solivita Book Circle in Florida) and played Mah Jongg and Bridge as often as she could.

Her lack of cooking skills early in her marriage provided hilarious stories, but after her first retirement she dove into cooking and preparing food enthusiastically and (sometimes) excessively. She adored all holidays but especially Thanksgiving, where she would spend days discussing ingredients, meal prep and presentation with Lisa’s husband, Alex.

Sue was the life of any party; she was a pro at asking questions to get to know people, and then connecting them to others with similar interests. Stories about the ways in which she made people laugh are endless, and we are still very thankful that she and her sister Emily didn’t break any limbs when they attempted to pole dance on a scaffolding during a girls trip to NYC in 2014.
She is predeceased by her parents and her son-in-law, CDR Alexander C. Varga, USN. She is survived by her loving husband, Howard; her daughters: Lisa Varga and Allison Raff (engaged to Daniel Hendlowitch); grandsons: Bradley, Jackson and Samuel Varga; siblings: Emily (nee Sternberg) and Bruce Brigell, Steven and Donna Sternberg, and Michael and Wendy Sternberg; nieces and nephews: Madeline (Colin Theis) Brigell, Jacob Brigell, Melanie Sternberg, Sean McQuistian, Amanda McQuistian, Amy (Ronnie) Best, Charles (Tricia) Sternberg, Keely Lange, Amanda (Ben) Zussman; and many great-nieces and nephews.

Celebrations of Susan’s life will be held in several locations at a later date. Please email susiememorial@gmail.com your name so we can add your contact info to Lisa and Allison’s lists. If you have pictures or stories you'd like to share, please use this address to send them.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Navy Seal Foundation: Click Here

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  • My friend, my mentor, and one of the kindest people I have ever known. Susan hired me at Bambergers Princeton in 1976.We have been friends ever since. She encouraged to be a better manager and was, by far, the best boss that I ever had.(I told her this many times throughout the years. She has helped me through some very sad times and also shared much joy. I will miss her laugh, her kindness, her "escalator meetings" in Princeton(she would stand at the top and the rest of us would stand at the bottom) but most of all I will miss our conversations about books, food and our families. I am proud to say she was my friend and I will miss her every day. Debbie Frank Balick

  • We are heartbroken. 14 wonderful years of friendship...Susan is missed already. Even though we don't live in Solivita anymore, we still talked and laughed every couple of weeks. And the memories that will sustain us. We share your loss. Love, Bunny and Michael

  • Susan was my newest "old friend". The kindest and most giving person I've ever known. For the 2 1/2 years we were besties, we had so many good times together....lunches, shopping trips to Chico's, and many hours as bridge partners. I will miss her lasagna soup and her brisket, but not as much as I miss her already! I love you SusieBronx and will see you again one day for sure! Our angels will see that it happens 😘 Love you girlfriend....Peggy

  • My heart breaks for you guys. Your mom lit up a room when she walked in. She was kind , warm and full of energy. When she spoke to you it was as if she had known you her whole life.

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