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From business suit to camo

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Marsha Sue evolves into avid outdoorswoman

BY PETER VAN HORN
When Marsha Sue married Al Sue 21 years ago, she promised they would stay open to each other’s passions. He loved the outdoors. A Southern California executive, she had never been in a truck or worn jeans — she assumed they were only for farmers. As a wedding gift, the newlywed Marsha Sue received a shotgun.
Al and Marsha Sue met through a dating service. Neither of them had time for traditional dating, Al Sue said. He knew right away his future bride wasn’t used to the outdoors, but with his help she became an avid hunter, angler and camper.
The couple delved into their respective interests and began to explore the world. Marsha Sue’s former career in an executive financial position had involved looking at “broken” companies and deciding whether to fund them. After years of living in Los Angeles, she wasn’t fully prepared for a new life immersed in the outdoors. Yet, she learned about hunting and fishing, activities that are now mainstays in her life.
“It’s been one hell of a transition,” her husband said.
After her career as an executive, Sue was tired of working for big organizations. She had developed communication skills during her years in finance, but she wanted to change topics. So she started working for herself, as a public speaker with a focus on leadership and personal development. Her speaking led her to take up writing as well. Her husband saw her talent as a communicator from day one.
“She is a bright lady, with an incredible ability to listen to people and pick up what they say and contribute to the conversation,” he said.
Sue stayed open to her husband’s passion. She embraced life as an outdoors-woman, hunting zebra in Africa and helping her friends from California accessorize camouflage.
Trying new things outside of her comfort zone was important to her and something she constantly pursued.
“Doing the unexpected and challenging myself is something I have to do every day,” she said.
She was doing just that- the challenging and unexpected- when she met Sandy Froman.
A lawyer, Froman is a former president of the National Rifle Association and has been an NRA board member for more than two decades. Sue met Froman in 2003, at Babes with Bullets, a women’s-only firearms camp, where they hit it off immediately. After years of hunting and exploring together, Froman says Sue is, above all else, prepared.
“You could have an emergency breakdown with her and end up having a steak dinner with champagne,” Froman said.
She recalled a hunting trip with Sue. They were hunting antelope; Froman had already tagged her animal and they were searching for another for Sue. On a small overlook, Froman watched as Sue, still holding her rifle safely, began to jump around and high step back from where she was standing. A rattlesnake had emerged from a crevice right in front of her.
“And it was a big snake too,” Froman said.
No snakes or professional speakers were harmed, and the two women still joke about the trip as the time Froman learned that Sue could dance.
Froman got Sue involved in the NRA, and helped grow Sue’s interest in guns and gun rights. Whether in the field or the office, Froman liked to have her around.
“She’s a ball of fire, energetic, enthusiastic, upbeat, and very friendly and outgoing,” Froman said.
In addition to speaking and writing, Sue volunteers for several conservation organizations. She is president of the Women’s Outdoor Media Association, a member of the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum Executive Committee with Froman, and a member of the Arizona Antelope Foundation.
Some of Sue’s work with the antelope foundation involves removing or modifying fences. Because antelope go under fences, the group removes barbs from the lowest wire, or removes the fence altogether, to help protect the animals from injury.
Outdoor Experience for All also gets her attention. Sue is passionate about getting others involved in conservation and into wilderness. Outdoor Experience for All is a nonprofit that gives terminally ill children a chance to explore and enjoy nature. As a volunteer she helps in any area she can, from organizing banquets to participating in activities with the kids.
On top of all that, Sue still writes and speaks professionally. She also goes outdoors with her husband and friends as often as possible. Staying busy and involved is important to her. She has produced more than 30 books, CDs and DVDs, and her books have been translated into several languages.
“My mission in life is to give back more than I receive and connect my head and my heart to my mouth,” she said.♦
-Peter Van Horn is a student at the University of Montana. He believes that outdoor journalism is an essential tool to address real environmental issues. Van Horn is also interested in feature writing and wilderness photography. He joined OWAA as a journalism intern for the summer of 2013.
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