Susan Diesenhouse, Bisnow Boston Reporter, Dies At 68
Susan Diesenhouse, Bisnow’s first Boston reporter, died on Nov. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
“Our prayers go out to the Diesenhouse family, especially her children, Jamie and Sage, and her sister Jacalyn,” Bisnow CEO Will Friend says. “She was a valued colleague and friend, and came to us by way of the Chicago Tribune as the media landscape was rapidly shifting from print to digital publishing.”
Over her long career reporting for Bisnow, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe and the New York Times, Susan covered the top names in commercial real estate, from Chicago mogul Sam Zell to Boston Global Investors CEO John Hynes III, and wrote extensively about major developments and redevelopments in Boston resulting from the $18B Big Dig, including the South End, Seaport, Fenway and East Cambridge.
“No matter which commercial real estate professional you talked to in Boston, everyone loved Susan,” says former Bisnow colleague and New York City real estate reporter Amanda Marsh. “She had a natural ability to connect with and understand others and had a genuine love for the industry, which shone in both her relationships and writing.”
Susan also was passionate about women’s issues. “Susan was an incredible friend and promoter of women in commercial real estate,” says Leslie Cohen, COO of Samuels & Associates and past president of CREW Boston. “CREW Boston could always count on her to talk about all of the good work we do, and she’s covered many of the projects we’ve been involved in. She went out of her way to make a difference for women in our industry.”
Susan grew up in Brooklyn writing poetry and completed her undergrad in ’68 at Brooklyn College. It was while working on her masters at Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy that she decided on a journalism career. While in grad school, she began writing for her professors and got work doing English to Spanish and Spanish to English translations, according to her sister Jacalyn Diesenhouse, a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Computer Science at the University of New Haven, CT.
Also at Tufts, Susan began a lifelong love affair with ballet, taking lessons at the New England Ballet Company. “She took ballet lessons from the day she started Tufts to the day the physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital gave her clearance after her cancer surgery to take classes,” Jacalyn says.
Susan’s first freelance assignments came from the Cambridge Chronicle and The Christian Science Monitor. In addition to journalism, she continued writing poetry, giving readings at bars across the South End neighborhood in Boston. After graduation in 1970, Susan became a stringer for the Boston Globe and the New York Times, producing stories across multiple beats, including business, arts and leisure, and real estate.
Susan’s early adulthood in the 1970s was also marked with adventure. During the Counterculture era, for instance, she and her Harvard law school buddies refurbished a school bus so they could travel to South America and volunteer. She settled in Argentina for two years, working as a translator and sending stories back home, Jacalyn recalls. “She was just really good with languages.”
Susan moved to Chicago around 2002 to take a staff position with the Chicago Tribune covering commercial real estate. She returned to her beloved Boston in 2008 and joined Bisnow the following year. “Boston was home,” Jacalyn says. “She was a New Englander through and through.”
Above all, Susan was a devoted and proud mother of twins, Jamie and Sage, 8.
Over the years, Boston readers and her Bisnow family took special delight in watching them grow as she shared pictures and stories, from their latest Halloween costumes to snow days.
Susan is survived by her twins, son James Blair Diesenhouse and daughter Sage Leigh Diesenhouse; her sister Jacalyn Diesenhouse; brother-in-law John Stewart; sister-in-law Arlene Diesenhouse; two nephews; one niece; and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews. She was pre-deceased by her brother, Sheldon Diesenhouse. She will be missed.
There is a fund to support Susan's twins; please consider donating here.