Suzanne Klingler Johnston ’61 Passes Away

April 6, 2020

It is with great sadness that we report Suzanne Klingler Johnston ’61 passed away suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend; we were notified by her family last night. Suzanne dutifully and lovingly served as President of Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women for 14 years before retiring in 2018.

Those of us who were privileged to call Suzanne a friend and colleague truly understood how caring and compassionate she was. Prior to joining Mercy in 2004, Suzanne served as principal of Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester. It was there where Suzanne began making tremendous strides in education in our community. Some of her proudest accomplishments at Wilson include initiating the school’s intense International Baccalaureate study program, being recognized as one of the top high schools in the nation by Newsweek, and welcoming President George H. W. Bush in 1989.

Following her years of service at Wilson and later at West Irondequoit, Suzanne returned to her alma mater to serve as Mercy’s second president. During her tenure at Mercy, she also retained her adjunct teaching position at St. John Fisher College.

Suzanne developed a deep connection with all Mercy Girls, none more so than the refugees who looked to Mercy for safe harbor from their war-torn countries. She guided Mercy with honor, integrity, and humility, qualities that have ensured our school remains an exemplar of women’s education and the Sisters of Mercy.

Under her leadership, Mercy substantially expanded the size and caliber of our faculty and student body while simultaneously broadening access and achievement. She championed Mercy’s adoption of College and Career Readiness Standards, increased student diversity, and pioneered an International Student Program. She also oversaw the enhancement of our science labs as well as significant improvements to our athletics and performing arts programs, all of which contributed to Mercy’s standing in the community.

We are in touch with Suzanne’s family regarding plans to celebrate her amazing life when we all are able to gather once again.

Suzanne’s legacy at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women is one that has been etched in the very foundation of our mission and our success. The lives she touched and her love for all things Mercy have become a guidepost to all who follow.

Pamela Fennell Baker ‘74 P’12

Caroline Whelan Tolbert ’02
Chair, Board of Trustees

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