Susan Riegel (nee Tosh), age 65, of Crete Illinois died from breast cancer on April 22, 2022.
Susan was born November 19, 1956 to Vivian and Lester Tosh. She was the tenth of eleven
children and could tell quite a few stories about growing up in their three bedroom, one
bathroom house in rural Crete.
Sue married Orlin M. Riegel on April 5, 1975. Four years later, they were blessed with their only
child, Mark O. Riegel. The early years of their marriage were spent living the farm life in
Monee. They moved to Crete in 1991.
Sue had a passion and drive for learning. She graduated from Prairie State College with a degree
in Nursing and went on to earn a B.S. in Health Services and an M.S. in Health Administration,
both from the University of St. Francis, Joliet. Sue started her 25-year nursing career with
Advocate Health Care in 1986, working in labor and delivery. From 2002 until 2011 Sue worked
as the Prenatal Outreach Coordinator at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
She loved her job and the friendships she made, especially those with Mary Marino and Sandy
As successful as she was professionally, her greatest joy in life was raising Mark. In a journal
entry, Susan wrote “I am so blessed to have been Mark’s mother. The Lord in His infinite
wisdom chose to give Orlin and me one child, so, He gave us Mark! Mark was such a fun little
boy and young man, but he was also a child with a conscience and empathy for others. I couldn’t
help but be in awe of him, whether it was learning Bible verses for grade school, playing high
school sports or working at Agee’s, he gave it his all. Mark went on to the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point and provided his father and me with years of pride and joy as we
watched him represent Army on the football field, on the marching fields, and eventually on the
war field as an officer in Iraq. Through it all, he remained a wonderful human being. This is a
child any mother would be proud to have raised.”
In 1998, Susan’s sister Patti was dying. Her final words to Susan were “Love my kids” and that
she did. She took on a motherly role to Brenda and Jason Halfeldt. Because of Susan, Jason
developed an appreciate for new packages of white socks and high thread count sheets. She
attended Brenda’s college graduation and helped pick out her wedding dress, but it was the role
they played in each other’s daily lives that made their mother/daughter bond special. They’d
spend hours on the phone talking about everything and nothing. They enjoyed shopping
excursions, traveling together and having sleepovers in Sue’s “big comfy bed.” Over the years,
Susan would tell Brenda “I couldn’t love you more if I’d birthed you myself.”
Brenda married Henry Gonzalez on October 17, 1998. Sue became a grandmother for the first
time on June 1, 2002 to Makena Lily Gonzalez. This was the same date that Mark graduated
from West Point. There were a lot of happy tears shed that day. Two years later, her second
grandchild, Braeden Kaleo Gonzalez, was born.
June 21, 2002 Mark married Alison (Ali) Brncick. Susan was blessed with three more
grandchildren to love: Julianna Claire Riegel, Wesley Louis Riegel and Cameron Gregory
Riegel. Her heart was full.
Susan will be remembered for many things, but two of the memories her family will never forget
are her Norman Rockwell inspired Christmases and her love for baking. Decorating Sue’s house
for Christmas was an over the top, all day affair. Every year, she would pull out “just a few
more” decorations she had purchased. By 2021, she was up to three Christmas trees and every
horizontal surface on the main floor was decorated. On Christmas Eve, Mark, Ali, Brenda, Henry
and all the grandkids would descend upon the house to celebrate. The table was set with the
Christmas china and a “fabulous” meal, including her famous pear salad, was served. After the
perfectly wrapped presents were opened, the desserts were set out. She was famous for her
chocolate chip cookies, toffee and fudge on Christmas Eve, but she baked throughout the year.
She always had fresh cookies when the grandkids visited and would never dream of going to
Kansas without a box of Mark’s favorites. She loved to celebrate birthdays with homemade
frosting and a little bit of cake. In the past few years, she found joy in making decadent sugar
cookies with elaborate frosting designs, which took the rest of the year’s holidays to new heights.
Susan was a woman of remarkable faith and strength. She became a confirmed member of Zion
Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1975 and practiced her faith daily in both her words and actions.
It was her faith that kept her going when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. In
2009, she found out that the cancer had metastasized into her bones. The five-year survival rate
for metastatic breast cancer at that time was less than 20%. She lived with this disease for almost
Living with a terminal diagnosis forced Sue to change her perspective on life. Her focus was on
enjoying however many days God would give her. She made it a priority to travel as much as she
was able. She transformed her house into a warm, inviting home. She took every opportunity to
make memories with her friends and family, especially her grandkids. She surrounded herself
with a strong circle of women that she could laugh with, cry with, talk with or simply sit with in
silence. She had her church friends “The PEWS” – Patti, Elaine, Wendy and Susan – and the
Bunco gals (wink-wink). We can smile knowing that she’s been reunited with her lifelong best
friend, Bobbette Masciotra, who passed away last year.
She was also preceded in death by her mother Vivian, father Lester, her beloved Aunt Gen,
brothers David, Bob and Ed and sisters Carol, Patti, Sharon and Marian. She is survived by
siblings Jim Tosh, Tom Tosh, Diane Symmes and her cherished sister-in-law, Barb Little.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 28th from 4pm – 8pm at Zion Evangelical Lutheran
Church, 1610 Main Street, Crete, Illinois. The funeral service will also be held at Zion Lutheran Church,
on Friday, April 29th at 11am, withvisitation starting at 10am. Interment will be in the church cemetery,
Zion Lutheran Cemetery immediately following the service. All friends and families are welcome to attend.
Arrangements entrusted to Crete Funeral Home, 1182 Main Street, Crete, Illinois Info: (708) 672-7600.