Susan Peters, 74, former musical director and professor in Binghamton University’s theatre department, died Oct. 18 in her Vestal home.
Peters worked at BU for more than 40 years before retiring in 2012. She was born in Binghamton in 1939 and earned her Master of Music from BU in 1972.
She worked on theater productions for both BU and the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott. Peters created and taught the course Theatre 101: Introduction to Musical Theatre, as well as Theatre MIDI.
Joe Masciana, a 2012 BU alumnus who studied cell and molecular biology, met Peters through her Theatre 101 course. According to Masciana, Peters rekindled his love for theater and singing.
“I had heard a lot of good things about her and I fell in love with her immediately,” he wrote in an email. “Her energy just drew me in and made me want to listen to what she had to say.”
Masciana described Peters as less of a professor and more of a coach.
“She was always in your corner no matter what,” Masciana wrote. “She was there to help you if you had a problem, she was there to talk to, to cry with, and she helped so many of us, including myself to build and rebuild confidence in ourselves.”
Masciana remembered Peters as encouraging and supportive.
“Honestly, Sue has meant more to me in my life than I can ever say. She saw something in me that I couldn’t, and still have trouble seeing, but because of her I grew at Binghamton and am still growing as a person. Her lessons outside the classroom and in last forever.”
According to Masciana, Peters was unique, and it was impossible to predict how she would act.
“Sometimes you could never just expect her to say or do anything specifically, but everytime she critiqued our work or taught us something it was always always always done with love for us and love for the art,” he wrote.
Kristina Seeley, a 2008 BU alumna who studied English, explained how Peters united all her teaching assistants.
“Acting as the center glue, Sue helped many of the TAs develop a really close-knit family,” Seeley said. “We were co-workers, but we were friends and goofballs and performers.”
Seeley remembered her fondly.
“The more time I spent with her, the more I loved her,” Seeley said. “She was so snarky and on top of her game, but more than willing to rely on us as team members. I grew so much as a person and a professional because of the opportunities she afforded me.”
Masciana eventually became a teaching assistant for Peters. He described the experience as casual and relaxed.
“They say in order to master a subject you need to be able to teach it, well Sue taught me how to be able to do that. She wasn’t very strict. She had deadlines and all you had to do was respect them. Otherwise she was as cool as a cucumber,” he wrote.
Peters is survived by her longtime partner, Fred Mellert; mother, Evaline Multer; two sisters, Mary Greene and Janet Christopher; three sons, Eric, James and Jon Peters; three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Condolences can be sent to Ernest H. Parsons Funeral Home through its website. Services will be private, but Peters asked that students, friends and family “sing a few show tunes now and then” in her memory.