Susan Norton Kanak, of Wells, passed away unexpectedly at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. She was 74 years of age.

Susan Kanak

Susan was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on Aug. 6, 1949, the daughter of Dr. Stanley and Dayl Norton. She graduated from Pittsfield High School before attaining her bachelor’s degree from Boston University in psychology and her Master of Business Administration from Rivier College.

Susan started her career as a social director at numerous nursing homes in the Boston area before entering Massachusetts state employment in the Office of Elder Affairs. She moved to the State Auditor’s Office and subsequently served as Deputy in the Office of the State Comptroller until her departure from state service in early 1999. Susan then worked with Muskie Institute at the University of Southern Maine (Portland) developing training programs for social work data collection and on other child welfare related projects until her retirement in 2011.

Susan was active in the Wells community and surrounding towns from the moment she and her husband, Jim, made it their permanent home in 1998. Her biggest and proudest effort was the creation of Women Who Drink and Do Good, an informal organization of women she co-founded in 2013 with Erin Haye, Paulette Millette, and Stacy Chilicki. That group met for cocktails and socializing every few months to gather contributions to support organizations and/or individuals in need that group members had identified and suggested. In its 10 years, the group has raised and distributed approximately $44,000.

In addition to WWD and DG, Susan participated in a monthly book club at the Wells Ogunquit Center at Moody, an astrology group that meets in Saco, and enjoyed walking, doing yoga, and going to the gym (usually complaining that Jim required her to go with him).

Susan’s many passions included reading, traveling, going out to eat at a host of her and Jim’s favorite restaurants, cooking, enjoying her cats, and enjoying the south coast of Maine. Susan and Jim hosted a competitive annual family and friends croquet tournament in their yard overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, highlighted by a post-tournament lunch featuring lobster rolls. Susan and Jim are also known for their Saturday morning breakfast recipe posts on Facebook with family and friends.


Perhaps Susan’s most lasting legacy is the special relationships she formed with her nieces, nephew, and now their children. Aunt Sissy, as she was affectionately known, treated them as her own, took them on personalized experiences when they were young, and spent countless hours teaching them about family traditions, such as how to make the perfect waffle on Christmas Day. There was no better conversation to be had than sitting with Susan in her front yard on a beautiful afternoon.

Susan was preceded in death by her parents, Stan and Dayl Norton of Pittsfield; older sister Rindy Huebner formerly of Burlington, Massachusetts, and Rindy’s (and husband Dennis’) son Mark, also of Burlington. She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Jim Kanak of Wells; younger sister, Mary Dayl Norton-Geer and her husband Jonathan Geer of Lowell, Massachusetts, and their children Kayla DiOrio and husband Anthony of Londonderry, New Hampshire, and daughter Ellery; Nathan Geer of Lowell, Massachusetts, and his significant other Jess Chhun of Manchester, New Hampshire; and Lyndsay Hession and husband Ricky of Saco, and their daughter Lucy; brother-in-law Dennis Huebner of Burlington, and his (and Rindy’s) daughter Karen Huebner Calandrelli and husband Joe of Burlington, and their children Hope, Molly, and Reid.

The family will host a Celebration of Life Ceremony 11 a.m. to noon on Friday, Dec. 1 at Village by the Sea, 1373 Poast Road, in Wells. A luncheon will follow the service from noon to 2 p.m. Casual attire welcome.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Safe Haven Humane Society, Post Road, Wells, ME (, The Seeds of Hope, 35 South St., Biddeford, ME 04005 ( or the Ogunquit Spirit of Giving in Ogunquit, ME 03907 (

To share a memory or leave a message of condolence please visit Susan’s Book of Memories Page at

Arrangements are in the care of Bibber Memorial Chapel, 111 Chapel Road, Wells, ME 04090.

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