By Eric Rosane / [email protected]
She was a beloved mother, fearless partner, and a frequent hero to Lewis County wives.
Susan Ingram – the cherished, irreplaceable and talented seamstress who for 14 years donated dresses to the winners of the Miss Lewis County pageant – died Thursday at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital after a month-long battle with COVID -19.
She was 69 years old.
“Her life was girls, brides – taking care of the public. It was her whole life. There was nothing she couldn’t do with a sewing machine,” her husband said on Friday. Sol Ingram from their fifth wheel located in Pe Ell. “She was a heroine for these girls. She was a lifeline for these girls.”
Susan Ingram, born and raised in Pe Ell, operated the famous Sewsie’s Diva Palace boutique in the Twin Cities before closing in 2016 for semi-retirement. For many years, in her shop window, she hosted the Dress for Success program, which paired professionals with job interview outfits.
She remained attached to her profession after the store closed and worked at the Yard Birds Mall for many years, working on clothing alterations and continuing her sewing routine.
For 25 years, Susan Ingram has remained a key figure in the Twin Cities business community.
“She amazed me,” said Jane Bates, 75, one of Susan Ingram’s closest mentors and friends. I said, ‘Susie, you can make or break a sale just because you know what you can do with any garment. You can turn a size 8 into a size 20 if you want.’ She was just fabulous. She was one of the nicest people I have ever met. ”
Sol Ingram, surrounded by grandchildren and family at home Friday night, recounted Susan’s life and last month battling the virus. Their 11-year-old dog Ozzy and two cats were walking for a walk as family photos hung on the walls of Susan and Sol’s Fifth Wheel, which was parked behind a store they rented from Pe Ell for the past six months. while they were building a house in Chehalis.
“Susie was all about the family,” Sol Ingram said.
The couple had been married for 39 years.
“She made everything up, everything you needed,” he added. “I liked to say I was married to a legend.”
The two met in 1982 at a small cafe in Homer, Alaska. Susan, already married with one child, worked as a cook on a fishing boat. Sol Ingram, a professional wrestler with the nickname “Arm & Hammer”, lived there at the time.
It was a film script reunion of two lovers.
“I was just sitting there talking to friends and girls, and that little bell rang – it’s someone coming through the door – and I turned around, looked and I ‘ve seen the prettiest little thing I have ever seen, “said Sol Ingram, recounting her tall, strawberry red hair.
She didn’t pay him much attention at first, but he was able to secure a first and second date while she spent two weeks in port. They went to see a movie on their first date, Sol Ingram said, although he can’t remember the title – that’s how infatuated he was.
She finally returned from the seas for a third date. After just five weeks of dating, Sol Ingram said, they were married.
“We didn’t go anywhere after that,” he said, later adding, “It was just amazing to marry her so quickly. She loved the showdown too, by the way.”
The two will eventually move to Lewis County and have another son. Sol Ingram, who worked for over 30 years as a bodybuilder, said he would help his wife in the store and learned more than he could have loved about the intricacies of tailoring.
Sol and Susan entered Saint-Pierre themselves on the morning of October 6. Both were suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19.
“We are delirious. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, couldn’t barely breathe. Couldn’t stand up. Finally, I woke up early in the morning, probably at 5 am, to see my wife sitting and she had her phone in her hand. She’s just watching, and she says ‘Sol, I had to call the ambulance,’ ”he said.
The ambulance could not accommodate them both, however. Against his own intuition, Sol’s son Dakota Ingram encouraged him to register as well. He did, about 10 hours later.
“I went to the COVID floor. I found out that Susie had been taken directly to the intensive care area, ”he said.
As Sol quarantined herself due to her infection and improved, Susan remained stable. The family prayed. Things seemed to be going well.
“But then the last five, six days it happened – the kidneys failed, the lungs got worse and it became obvious. And I could never say she wouldn’t. People always asked me, “How’s Susie?” “And I couldn’t say anything,” he said.
Sol Ingram was released from hospital on October 24, after spending three weeks without seeing his beloved wife – his soul mate and best friend.
“It was horrible, scary. Having his wife on a ventilator. And you are fighting for your life,” he said.
Susan Ingram said her last words to Sol just before going on a ventilator on October 10. After a three-week fight, she passed away on Thursday, November 4.
Doctors have warned Sol Ingram he could endure a long fight with what has been called the long COVID. His breathing is still shallow and standing for long periods of time remains a challenge. He has also lost weight and suffers from prolonged depressive exhaustion.
“When I breathe in sometimes my chest can lift. I think my breathing is too shallow,” he said. Sol Ingram said he felt his breathing had gone “from 10 to 2” in just over a month.
Small walks helped him to recover. He often visits the store to see how his son, Dakota Ingram, 37, of Chehalis is doing. He tinkered with an orange Pontiac Firebird from 1973, one of his mother’s favorites.
On a recent hazy autumn night, he sat in the dark, watching the dimly lit Main Street of Pe Ell from the cabin of the car.
“When she was younger she had curly red hair and was always known to run around Pe Ell here in a bright orange Firebird. I was just trying to make him relive some of those younger moments. It was going to be a big surprise when she came home to see him sitting in the aisle, ”said Dakota Ingram.
He still hasn’t dealt with the loss, he says. It’s still “hard to grasp” and it’s been “28 days of fasting”.
Susan Ingram homeschooled her children, said Dakota Ingram, and she has always supported a loving home. Their family was tight-knit. He remembers being raised in Homer and Anchorage, but he thinks “Washingtonian, for sure.”
Ten years ago, Dakota Ingram and the family bought the damaged Firebird from her. They never managed to fix it, until his mother and father were admitted to the hospital.
Taking care of their fifth wheel while they were away, Dakota Ingram also spent hours of the day focusing on fixing the car so she wouldn’t think about things.
“It will be a tribute to her, now for sure,” he said.