This past week, the humanistic and transpersonal psychology communities lost one of our long time leaders, Sue Wallingford. The Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association mourns her loss and wishes to express our condolences to the many family, friends, colleagues, students, and clients who cared deeply for Sue.
Sue was a professor at Naropa University for 25 years and served in many capacities, including as faculty member in both the graduate Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling and Transpersonal Art Therapy programs. Sue’s many accomplishments include founding the Naropa Community Art Studio-International and Partners for Social Justice, an organization that brought art therapy to international populations. For the last many years, Sue led international trips to Cambodia, bringing support to those impacted by domestic violence, poverty, and sex trafficking.
Sue was one of the authors in Shadows and Light: Theory, Research and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology edited by Kaklaukas, Clements, Hocoy and Hoffman (2019). Her chapter, “A Transpersonal Approach to Service-Learning: A Call to Right Action,” is a reflection on her Cambodian work. She grew up in Kentucky and always identified with her southern girl roots. She had a sweet drawl and was a tireless champion of diversity education, of personal growth, and learning to be a better person. For many years she and her students held 48 hour art events to raise money for the Cambodian trips or for other causes. Students would create matchbox artworks and sell them at auction parties they would host, of which many are owned & treasured by RMHCPA secretary & Sue’s dear friend, Carla Clements.
As wonderful and laudable as her accomplishments are, what was most important about Sue is her kind heart, gentle spirit, and fierce commitment to living from her authentic core. It was always Sue who volunteered to host gatherings at her beautiful home or take on the responsibility for creating a remembrance or celebration. She would provide art supplies (such as a basket and strips of cloth) that she would pass around the group circle, inviting everyone to tie some love or memory into the basket that would then become a gift to that person. She treated her students to magic and ritual as a way of initiation, both in and out of the program. Sue’s life was challenging these last few years, having lost both her mother and sister. The death of her son, Jayce, this past fall was devastating for her. She has been sharing the process of her grief on Facebook these few months–her writing and her art and it has been a gift to those who have witnessed her journey.
Sue’s work, influence and love live on in the spaces she created, such as Crowd Collective, a co-work studio, community workspace and small gallery. Sue is survived by her husband Jay, daughter Emma, daughter in law Janae, grand babies Zane & Ezra and the rest of the family she leaves behind.
Sue was part of the Crowd Collective. More information can be found at https://thecrowdboulder.com/gallery.