Susan Grodzin Heywood passed away January 4, 2012, in Scottsdale, Arizona. A Valley marketing/advertising executive for many years, she was known in recent years for her charitable work for indigent women and for homeless animals. The Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Foundation, which she created and chaired, produced star-studded awards programs that raised more than a million dollars for Valley animal shelters.
Susan was born April 8, 1941, in Oklahoma City, OK, to Sally and Morris Grodzin. Her father was Jewish and her mother Cherokee Indian, which led her husband Bill to later joke that her real name was Poca- Hannukah.
She grew up in Borger, TX, attended Texas Tech in Lubbock TX, and finished college at Long Beach State, CA, before returning to Texas to run her family’s western wear store.
In her 20s, she broke a national water-skiing record as the first woman to go 60 miles an hour on a slalom. In 1975, Susan and daughter Nicole moved to Phoenix where Susan worked for Jennings & Thompson ad agency, and was one of the first two women account executives in Arizona.
She and Bill were married in February, 1977. The next year she opened her own boutique advertising firm, handling clients such as Phoenix College, for which she won national awards.
While operating her successful advertising business in the 1980s and 1990s, she was agent and manager to her husband, Bill Heywood, a nationally known radio personality. Landing larger and larger contracts for him resulted in higher salaries for other Valley broadcast personalities as well.
No matter how busy she was, Susan always found the time to give back to the community, both with Bill and on her own. The two received a Couples of Distinction Award by the Anti-Defamation League in 2002, and the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the Arizona Humane Society. Susan’s professional and community affiliations included American Women in Radio & TV, Phoenix Advertising Club, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Athena Awards, and Arizona Women Education and Employment (AWEE).
Susan enjoyed creating a beautiful home for herself and Bill, and in fact the AZ Republic featured their Arizona Biltmore home in 2004. She relished her membership in Charter 100, an exclusive group of women leaders, where she served two terms as president in the mid-2000s.
Susan was a devoted wife and mother, and a loyal friend. She will be remembered for her sense of style, her business acumen, her generosity, her wit, and the Texas drawl she never lost. She had two favorite quotes: “The best thing I make for dinner is reservations,” and “Dress British, Think Yiddish, Speak Southern, and Smile.”
A petite, perfectly groomed woman usually dressed to the nines, Susan Heywood was happiest relaxing in Oak Creek Canyon in her sweats with Bill and their poodles. She once said that her personal goal was “to be the person my dogs think I am.”
Susan is survived by her daughter, Nicole Heywood, her sister, Sandall Grodzin, and her nephew, Brandon Grodzin. A celebration of the lives of Bill and Susan Heywood will be held at 4 p.m., Jan. 14, at the Arizona Biltmore Grand Ballroom, Phoenix.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heywood Memorial Fund to benefit animal charities, c/o www.spiritandword.org , or to KJZZ, Tempe, AZ.