Steven Krupnick remembers the first time he saw Susan Krupnick, the woman who, just two years later, would marry him.
It was the spring of 1969. She was standing by a bench in the quad at American University, telling off some other students for taking food stamps when they didn’t need them. He approached her to tell her he agreed. They started talking and, Steven Krupnick said, they never stopped.
Forty-nine years later, on June 28, Susan Krupnick died in his arms at the age of 68, after an eight-year battle with breast cancer.
During her life, she protested the Vietnam War, taught special education and opened Kamikaze Kids, a punk children’s store on Fourth and South streets.
“She wanted to die at home in her own bed in my arms, and I made that promise to her that I would do that,” Steven Krupnick said. “That was a very hard promise. I worried about her, but I managed to do it.”
She was a “flower child,” he said. They both were. She attended Woodstock. Even as they got older, had three children and eight grandchildren — with a ninth on the way — the values that motivated her hippie lifestyle remained.
“We’ve kept them our whole life, the fact that there can be good people anywhere, that there can be good in people, to accept, to love other people,” her husband said. “We never got over that. We kept that in heart. It was never about drugs. It was more about an attitude.”
Susan Krupnick started her career as an English and special education teacher. In 1984, she changed careers and opened Kamikaze Kids, seeing a need for a children’s store in Center City. The store grew to several locations in the Philadelphia area and New Jersey. She sold the store after 17 years.
She then started a third career with her husband, who was a local business and property owner. The two also worked together to rehab houses, including one for her son David and his family, which she worked on until the end.
“I keep trying to make sense of someone who would spend their last days on Earth working on something as insignificant as an art project for children or a home renovation,” David Krupnick wrote in a eulogy. “When she could barely walk, and the end was even closer, she demanded that we take her to see the unit and barked orders to us from a stepstool she perched on. The only way I can make sense of that experience is that she chose to live her life as a mother and was determined to see us settled.”
Because of her breast cancer, she had more than 120 rounds of chemotherapy, but always focused on the now, Steven Krupnick said.
“She was perfect,” he said. “She was everyone’s mom. … She accepted people for who they were and tried to find whatever she could do to help them. I’m incredibly blessed to have had her for 47 years plus.”
She is survived by her husband Steven; her brother Boots and his wife, Judy Nissenbaum; her children Katy and Jason Friedland, Betsy and Jake Ramage, David and Davida Krupnick; and her grandchildren Julien, Wyatt, Zoe, Violet, Charlotte, Harrison, Grayson and Colin.
Donations can be made in Susan Krupnick’s honor to the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech at clarkeschools.org/krupnickfund.
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