Susan McGuire, two-time president of the Daffodil Festival, was passionate about community and kids.
“She always put her all into everything,” said Carly Lange, the 2012 Daffodil princess from Sumner High School. “She always lit up the room with her laughter.”
McGuire, who also was a longtime White River School District board member, died unexpectedly Saturday. She was 61.
The Buckley resident had worked with the Daffodil Festival since 1998, serving as president in 2005 and 2012, as well as eight years as a spokeswoman for the organization.
McGuire developed a strong bond with the royal court last year, Lange said. The two share an alma mater — McGuire graduated from Sumner in 1970.
After a princess committed suicide at home during the 2012 festival, Lange said McGuire offered strong support to help the other princesses press on.
“She was a calming presence,” she said.
Close friends and colleagues say McGuire was an advocate for improving education and giving back to the community, and she often shed tears of joy for those she supported.
Festival President Brad Stevens called her a friend and mentor.
“The loss isn’t just for the Daffodil Festival,” he said. “The whole community has suffered a loss.”
Steve James, executive director for the festival, said McGuire was always involved in the parade and the annual Princess Tea, which she organized and paid for out of her own pocket.
McGuire also started a scholarship in memory of her late husband, Mike, to help princesses pay for college. Mike McGuire was killed in a hit-and-run in December 1999. He also was a big part of the festival, James said, and despite her heartache Susan McGuire continued to give back.
“A part of her was lost when she lost her husband,” James said. “But through it all, she was still passionate about education and community. She put that effort towards this festival.”
McGuire was an elected board member for the White River School District from 1996 until the time of her death. Superintendent Janel Keating said McGuire championed resources for students with special needs.
Denise Vogel, White River’s board president, said McGuire was instrumental in bringing White River High School into the Daffodil Festival in 2012. The school had a princess this year for only the second time.
“She was very proud of her princesses,” Vogel said. “We hope to continue that in her memory.”
Keating said McGuire’s commitment to others is an example to live by.
“She made time in her life to give back to her community,” Keating said. “And there’s a message for all of us in that.”
McGuire is survived by her adult son Morgan, two young granddaughters and a brother.