OBITUARY: Suzanne B. Dungan

Suzanne B. Dungan of Marfa, Texas died peacefully, Monday, May 16, 2022, at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas after a brief illness. By her side was her son Alan R. Niederlitz of Houston, Texas,  and daughters Krista Niederlitz of Houston, Texas, and Suzanne Niederlitz Wynn of Cranston, Rhode Island.

Suzanne was born in Columbus, Ohio, November 1, 1943, to parents Elizabeth Dodd and James J. Butler.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas Dungan, to whom she was married for 44 years. Tom was her soulmate, best friend and birding sherpa on adventures they shared in India, Africa, Central and South America, and Mexico.

In addition to her three children, Suzanne is survived by four grandchildren: Christopher Thompson of Jacksonville, Florida, Sean Flanagan of Austin, Texas, Kira Flanagan of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Audrey Niederlitz of Houston, Texas. Her great grandchild, August Orion Thompson, was born in Okinawa, Japan, on February 2, 2021.  They were able to meet at Christmas 2021.

Suzanne’s professional career included a wide range of interests, from owning her own travel agency in her 20s and organizing concierge travel tours for Walter Mischer and his company in Houston, Texas, where she coordinated the grand opening of the Lajitas resort (during a rare snowstorm). It was that experience that stoked her lifelong love of West Texas. She went on to a career as an art consultant in Houston, making many friends and colleagues in the modern art world. During her later Houston years, she owned a stained concrete flooring business and pioneered a unique technique of staining concrete that brought her critical recognition.

She and her husband Tom were devoted followers and collectors of modern Texas artists, and they were active in the art communities of Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston and Marfa. After they built their home and moved to Marfa, they continued their support of the Chinati Foundation, and Suzanne assisted in fundraising efforts that enabled the completion of the Robert Irwin installation. She also curated a historic show at Ballroom Marfa presenting the works of famed midcentury architect Victor Lundy and his wife, artist Anstis Lundy. The show displayed for the first time ever Victor’s celebrated architectural drawings, works of art in themselves, and Anstis’s beautiful watercolor paintings. The show was a huge success despite many challenges and it demonstrated Suzanne’s ability to do anything she set her mind to. 

She supported the Dersu Collective art sale community fundraiser, volunteered in Marfa schools, and was active in a variety of environmental and social causes.  Just before the pandemic, Suzanne initiated a community discussion about establishing a much needed hospice care facility in the Alpine, Marfa and Fort Davis communities.

As Coco Chanel said, “elegance is refusal.” Suzanne, who named her beloved little dog Coco and her cat, Chanel, was a truly elegant lady,  a striking beauty with reserved grace, sharp and careful judgment to the last. She had a strong desire to support each person’s inner dignity, best intentions and projects. She was a curious, sincere listener and a fiercely loyal friend. A true lover of Marfa, she chose to live the rest of her life here spotting and listening for birds. 

A private family memorial will be held at a later date. The family suggests that donations in her name be made to the Audubon society. Her love of art and birds was a theme that ran throughout her life.