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Susan N. Harper

Published: 2/7/2020 3:00:51 AM
Modified: 2/7/2020 3:00:40 AM

HANOVER, NH — Susan N. Harper, 61, of Hanover, NH peacefully passed away at her home surrounded by her family on January 29, 2020, after a prolonged illness with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Born August 11, 1958 in Boston, MA to Dr. Robert S. Harper and Ursula (Wilhelm) Harper, Susan was the oldest of four children in a close-knit family raised in Worcester, MA. She held fond memories of playing backyard sports with the neighborhood gang, lifeguarding at the city pool, and taking family trips to ports afar. After graduating from Doherty High School in 1976, Susan attended Harvard University (Class of 1980) where she majored in biology and captained the Varsity track team. She went on to Dartmouth Medical School (Class of 1984) and completed her radiology residency at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Susan returned to Hanover, NH in 1989, beginning her medical career as a staff radiologist at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and as an Assistant Dean in the Office of Academic Affairs at Dartmouth Medical School.

At both the VA and the Deans Office, Susan greatly valued the warmth and collegiality of her coworkers. For twenty-five years, she led The Match program at Dartmouth Medical School where she counseled students on their preference of specialty and residency programs, writing detailed letters of recommendation for each candidate. She treasured these interactions, guiding more than 1,500 young doctors along their career paths. Susan also supervised the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Radiology residents during their rotations through the VA. A gifted educator, she was nominated by the students and elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society, of which she became the chapter Secretary. Susan was also awarded the Outstanding Clinical Teacher of the Year Award and the Master Educator Award from Dartmouth Medical School.

A lifelong nature enthusiast, Susan loved the Upper Valley and its proximity to outdoor activities including hiking in the White Mountains, skiing the local trails after a fresh snowfall and walking barefoot on a coastal beach. Passionate about spreading her love of the outdoors, Susan served as Secretary of the Hanover Conservation Council where she created the Council’s tradition of Kite Day, marked each May atop Balch Hill. She also was a board member of the Ford Sayre Ski Council and headed the recreational cross-country ski program for over ten years. She delighted in introducing youngsters to the lifelong sport of cross-country skiing with scavenger hunts and beach ball ski soccer, while warding off the elements with hot chocolate and M&M’s.

Susan always said that the most important part of her life was raising her three daughters and instilling in them the lifelong values of kindness and hard work. Supporting their activities meant years of music recitals, unheated hockey rinks, urban squash courts, remote ski venues, and even an all-night drive following the Hanover High’s soccer team run to Maine. A consummate “road warrior”, she would think nothing of zipping down to Boston or Manhattan to visit with a daughter and catch a show or museum exhibition only to drive home the same day.

Another one of Susan’s greatest joys was her community of friends, developed through shared years of raising families together. Susan led the way organizing many family beach, ski and mountain adventures together. She made sure to keep things fun, hosting impromptu dance parties–and always leading the conga line. This same group of close friends provided unwavering support through her last difficult years.

Susan is survived by her husband, Chris Nice of Hanover, NH and three daughters: Katie Nice and her husband Chris Bachand-Parente of New York, NY, Hannah Nice of New York, NY and Emily Nice, who returned to Hanover for the past two years to serve as Susan’s primary caregiver, ensuring each day that Susan was surrounded by her favorite things. Susan is also survived by her parents, Robert and Ursula Harper of Worcester, MA, her siblings, Betsy Harper of Littleton, MA, Amy Munger of Worcester, MA and Robert Harper Jr. of Southborough, MA, and many nieces and nephews.

In honor of Susan’s abiding love of nature and open spaces, donations may be made to the Hanover Conservancy. A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. The family would like to thank Dr. Elijah Stommel, Nurse Kathy Watson and aide Monique Mucheke for their superb care.

To view an online memorial and or send a message of condolence to the family, please visit,

Arrangements are under the direction of Rand-Wilson Funeral Home of Hanover, NH.

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