Sisters devote life to education and service to others

Sisters devote life to education and service to others

M artha Causey, ’65, and her sister Susan, ’68, have always put students first. Now, we put Susan first, reflecting on those she touched and a lifetime of service to others (Aug. 8, 1947 – Feb. 10, 2019).

As health and physical education teachers, Martha and Susan helped keep high school students healthy and fit. They also created the Causey Family Scholarship honoring Harold Bates and Elizabeth Burgess Causey because of their parents’ strong example and support for education. The scholarship will help Georgia College undergraduates, who are in financial need and pursuing a degree in early childhood education. 

The sisters’ parents held education in high regard. Their father was a teacher, then a superintendent for Walton County Schools. Their mother also worked for the local school system as a secretary. So, the importance of a good education was something that came naturally to Martha and Susan. 

Martha (left) and Susan Causey
Martha (left) and Susan Causey

Susan loved serving for the greater good. It's always been something she enjoyed, so she became a Brownie at age seven. As she grew older, Susan invested decades of service to Camp Juliette Low—a private camp for girls—working as a unit counselor, unit leader, counselor-in-training director, camp director and board of trustees’ member until her death in 2019. She also worked weekends at the camp washing dishes and performing other volunteer duties as needed. Susan was regarded by staffers as a “valued friend” and also known by counselors in training as an “amazing mom” to the girls.   

“Susan would help campers feel relaxed and at home from the very moment the campers arrived,” said Kathy Switzer, member of the Board of Trustees and former camp director at Camp Juliette Low. “In her later years during staff training, she gave our younger staff a great tip for helping campers feel welcome. Susan would study each camper’s application and paperwork to memorize at least one special fact about each girl to help her establish that personal connection.”

After earning her degree, Susan taught health and physical education in Fulton County at Lakeshore and Roswell High Schools for 30 years and served as a department chair. She became a facilitator for peer tutoring as well. Susan also coached the tennis team and drill team.

“It was a real joy for her to teach students tennis and the importance of tennis etiquette,” said Martha. “She was adamant that her students were courteous on and off the court. That carried over into anything she did.” 

“I’m thankful for the professors I had, excellent education and guidance I received and enjoyment of my fellow students and friends I had made. It was just an exceptional overall experience for Susan and me. Our education contributed to the successes we enjoyed as teachers, coaches, human beings, daughters, friends and colleagues as a result of the time we spent at Georgia College.”
– Martha Causey

Martha earned her degree in health and physical education as well. She taught at North Springs High School in Fulton County. Like her sister, Martha also became a department chair. Then, she changed her career to youth ministry through Young Life and then became a special education teacher for 25 years, retiring in 2004. 

Both Martha and Susan felt the expectations for teachers were exceptionally high when they attended Georgia College. 

Circa 1970: Susan Causey at High Rock at Lookout Mountain in Cloudland, Georgia.
Circa 1970: Susan Causey at High Rock at Lookout Mountain in Cloudland, Georgia.

“Our professors modeled professionalism and care for their students by example,” said Martha. “They expected us to provide the same when we became teachers. So, we became what we were expected to be because of education and encouragement.”

Martha and Susan felt it was easy to get to know the students and faculty at Georgia College.

Martha’s first impression of Georgia College was marked by the university’s then President Robert E. Lee. The Sunday prior to starting school, the 16-year-old, first-year student attended a Sunday School class he taught at First Presbyterian Church.

“There were about 50 of us there,” said Martha. “He went down the rows and asked us our names and where we were from. And, when he got to the end of the rows, he started again at the beginning and called every single one of us by name. I was so impressed. I couldn’t believe he had such a great memory.”

Her favorite professor was Dr. Harold Steele, who taught anatomy and physiology. 

A plaque at Camp Juliette Low memorializes Susan Causey.
A plaque at Camp Juliette Low memorializes Susan Causey.

“He was the toughest teacher I ever encountered, but brilliant,” said Martha. “Dr. Steele could fill up a blackboard while speaking. When he got to the end of that subject, he erased it and started again. We had to copy what he wrote word-for-word, because that’s what Dr. Steele expected from us.”

Although his class was challenging, Martha considered it a great experience and wanted to learn more. She was invited to join the on-campus science honors society.

“That initiative came primarily from my classes with Dr. Steele,” said Martha. “He was just such a good professor. I learned so much from him. Joining Alpha Delta Phi Society gave me an opportunity to belong to something else.”

While at Georgia College, Martha was a junior advisor and elected to Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities. During her senior year, she was president of the Recreation Association and belonged to skill clubs including: tumbling, tennis and the Penguin Club—synchronized swimming.

“It was quite an honor to serve as president of the Recreation Association,” she said. “All of those things I was involved in helped me in my career as a teacher and in youth ministry.”

Martha and Susan especially liked the Golden Slipper competition.

“That was a highlight for both of us to participate fully in it and to share that experience. We also enjoyed that each class had a sister class helping where first-year students assisted juniors and sophomores partnered with seniors. That was important to us.”

Although Martha and Susan were never on the same crew, they still enjoyed preparing for the competition.

“It was two weeks of the hardest times, because we had to maintain our studies, plus put in all those extra hours preparing for this wonderful event, which was a major production,” Martha said. “Teams of people wrote songs, built props and made programs by hand. There was so much exceptional talent among our classmates.”

During her junior year, Martha chaired the Props Committee for the Golden Slipper competition, where the students built the props from scratch. Their theme titled “Make me a child again just for tonight,” used a lot of nursery rhymes. They even built an eight by 10-foot pumpkin to accommodate a person.

“I’m thankful for the professors I had, excellent education and guidance I received and enjoyment of my fellow students and friends I had made,” said Martha. “It was just an exceptional overall experience for Susan and me. Our education contributed to the successes we enjoyed as teachers, coaches, human beings, daughters, friends and colleagues as a result of the time we spent at Georgia College.”

Martha and Susan enjoyed wonderful years in teaching, now they hope to assist others in becoming teachers.

“Susan and I shared a belief in public education, especially early-childhood education, because children need a great beginning and encouragement in the early years to ensure a successful future,” said Martha. “Our hope is that some financial assistance would make a big difference in the educational needs of recipients, and that a financial investment will provide the encouragement and knowledge that someone believes they will succeed.”

To learn how you can help students, as the Causey’s did, contact Bob Preston at bob.preston@gcsu.edu.