Gardening 06

Susan R. (Rickerich) Sphar

March 29, 1944 ~ February 17, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old

Susan Sphar Obituary


Age 78 of Fox Chapel, passed away peacefully at home with family at her side on Friday, February 17, 2023. Susan spent her formative years in Allendale, NJ. At Mahwah High School she was a cheerleader, which she remained the rest of her life.  Susan moved to Pittsburgh with her parents and three siblings in 1965.  She attended Hood College in Frederick, MD where she majored in Art and developed a passion for painting and collage. 

Her first date with the love of her life was attending a wrestling match. Despite this, she went on to spend 56 years married to her beloved husband, Holly W. Sphar. They raised four children and found great joy traveling the world together on bicycle trips to Europe and South America, cruises with family and friends and their annual trip to Pine Cay.  As a mom she was always engaged, leading Brownie troops, running carpools, and cheering at soccer and field hockey games. She also enjoyed roles with the Women’s Committee at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Junior League, as a Trustee at Shady Side Academy, and a Deacon and Elder at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. In the early 1990s she graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and launched her second career as an interior designer with Mikell Schenck Associates, where she helped clients create beautiful spaces for 15 years. 

Plum Hill, Susan’s home of 54 years, was her ongoing project that she would never cease re-envisioning. She was a prolific gardener, and in her later years could be found perched on her gardening stool for seven months out of the year. Her gardens are documented in the collection of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institute.  She was also an avid bird watcher who was able to identify their songs by ear. The birds at Plum Hill are among the best fed in Western Pennsylvania.

Susan’s creativity knew no bounds.  She was an avid seamstress and quilter. She won numerous awards for her photography and floral arrangements with the Garden Club of Allegheny County. She was a chef with few equals, reading cookbooks even at the beach, and loved nothing more than to put together an intricate menu and entertain her friends. One of her legacies is the thousands of five-star recipes she collected and served over the years.

Susan leaves behind her husband, Holly; her children Lauren (Merg), Kate, Andrew Holly (Samilia), and Jeremy; two grandchildren, Frederick and Amber; her sister Nancy Clark (the late Vaughn), and brother Steven Rickerich (Dana). She was preceded in death by her parents Frederick and Doris Rickerich and her sister Karen.

No Visitation. A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 3rd at 2:00pm at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (

Arrangements by Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, Aspinwall.

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Memorial Service
March 3, 2023

2:00 PM
Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church
384 Fox Chapel Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15238


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