GOSHEN — Suzanne Bishop is a founding member of two guilds in Goshen, clay and photography.
She has always been interested in art and received her bachelor’s degree in art from Goshen College in 1985 with a unique distinction.
”I was the oldest person in my graduating class,” Bishop said, smiling.
She will celebrate her 94th birthday in the near future.
About six years, Bishop was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and became a cancer survivor.
“I conquered cancer. The doctors told me I went through chemotherapy better than most people my age. I was 88,” Bishop said.
As a member of the Goshen Clay Artists Guild, she donated 30 bowls for the group’s 14th Annual Empty Bowl Project. She made some of the bowls on a pottery wheel and some of the bowls were hand-formed.
“I try to make some different each year,” Bishop said. “It’s all going for a good cause.”
The event was held March 28 with more than 750 people in attendance and raising approximately $10,000 for the Goshen Interfaith Hospitality Network, a community non-profit organization that works with local churches to offer meals and temporary shelter for homeless families with children.
Bishop said she graduated from high school in 1939 and started college, but married after her freshman year after meeting in now late husband, C. Franklin Bishop.
The couple moved to Goshen in the late 1950s when her husband became a professor of biology at Goshen College. The couple were married for 57 years.
“We had four sons and when the boys were young, I didn’t want to work full-time so I worked as a secretary and then as an office manager for Dr. Willard Krabill,” she said.
Bishop spoke proudly of her nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She enjoys traveling to visit her family members, who live in New York, Hawaii and Indiana.
She said her husband had an agriculture project in Haiti and the couple were study service term leaders for two terms with Goshen College in that country.
“I taught ceramics and flower arrangements and took photographs while in Haiti,” Bishop said. “I have traveled to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, too.”
Her interest in art and photography started in high school and she used her mother’s box camera to take pictures of family. She now uses a Nikon digital camera.
Her photography has been on display in different galleries and several of her photographs hang on the walls in the corporate office of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center.
She has received several prizes for her photography in the Art is Ageless contest and exhibit sponsored by Greencroft Communities.
Her ceramic artwork has also been on display in galleries and for several years, she owned a pottery business with Norma Wysong in New Paris called “Turkey Creek Pottery.”
“I took a kiln-building class at Goshen College and built a kiln in our backyard,” Bishop said. “I also made candlesticks with clay from Yellow Creek and sold them as souvenirs at Judd’s Drugstores for people to buy.”
She has been a member of East Goshen Mennonite Church and was an elder and youth teacher for many years.
Some of her other activities include being a member of two book clubs and being a member of Goshen Questers Club, an antique study group. The Questers sponsored her for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair senior queen pageant in 1998. She was selected as senior queen that year.
“It’s quite a job to be senior queen. We had to meet at 7:30 a.m. every day for assignments during fair week,” Bishop said, smiling. “I spoke to different 4-H clubs and I introduced the main speaker (performer) each day. Willie Nelson was there that year and I have a picture of the two of us together. That fair is really supported by Goshen merchants.”
She has also been a volunteer at Greencroft, helping to feed residents in the dining room, as well as helping to start the gift shop at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, which began with merchandise on a cart.
“I was the only one at the beginning and then got others to help get it in full swing,” Bishop said. “The auxiliary helped pay for building the gift shop over time.”