BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Susan Feterman was much more than a statistic.
The 72-year-old Gramercy resident — who never left home without her bike — was killed May 5 when she was pedaling across E. 14th St. and was struck by a car reversing into a parking spot.
Per department protocol, police had not released Feterman’s name publicly because they could not locate any family members to notify first.
Following The Village Sun’s article about Feterman, however, a relative and a friend both shared some details about her with the paper.
In addition, her friend is concerned that Feterman may have been buried in an unmarked mass grave on Hart Island; now she and others want to raise funds to reinter Feterman in a proper cemetery.
Feterman’s second cousin Linda Haftel Taylor said they would sometimes run into each other on the street, and that Feterman invariably was on her trusty green bike.
“She was a very pretty woman, we called her ‘Stunning Suzy,'” her cousin said. “She was sweet and funny. When we were younger, we were close. We spent a lot of time together when our grandparents were alive.
“But people grow apart, move away, parents and grandparents die. When I moved back into New York City in 1980, I would intermittently run into her. She was always on her bicycle.
“This news has brought tears to my eyes, I loved her,” she said. “Although her death made her seem like some anonymous older woman, Susan was a beloved member of a family who has suffered the broken ties that bind.”
Risë Landsman was good friends with Feterman when they attended high school at Ramaz on the Upper East Side. They were both scholarship students at the Modern Orthodox Jewish school. They graduated in 1965.
“She was sweet, easygoing, raised by a single mom and loving grandparents,” Landsman recalled, “lived off Second Ave. on, I would say, like 10th or 11th St.
“Good-looking…good-looking girl, good-looking woman…wore glasses, very soft, very sweet, never argued, a little boy crazy,” she added, noting that might, understandably, have been because she didn’t have a father in the picture.
Some at the parochial school looked askance at Feterman’s interest in guys, she noted.
“Her grandmother used to make a mean onion board,” Landsman recalled. She was referring to a flaky Eastern European-style focaccia-like bread with onions and sometimes poppy seeds.
“I remember her mother used to pack her lunches in a manila envelope — funny what you remember.”
Feterman was a cheerleader at Ramaz, she said.
Later on, Feterman “fell in love with theater, but not as an actor,” her friend added.
“Susan never married, but she had some relationships,” she noted.
According to Landsman, Feterman was also a cousin of singer Lesley Gore, whose smash hit “It’s My Party” topped the charts in 1963.
About a year and a half ago, the women spoke on the phone and discussed getting together.
“She said, ‘I bike every day and maybe we can meet and bike together,'” Landsman recalled.
“She was a city girl, she never drove a car,” she said of her friend’s passion for cycling.
Landsman, who lives in New Jersey, subsequently tried to set up a date with Feterman. Her son has a store, Taste Wine Co., on Third Ave. in the East Village, and she figured she could also visit her friend when she came into the city to see him. But Feterman declined, after having earlier in the phone conversation mentioned she was embarrassed by her teeth.
Landsman and some of Feterman’s other Ramaz friends are now concerned that Feterman may have been buried in an unmarked mass grave in potter’s field on Hart Island. Although officials did know Feterman’s identity — apparently she had ID on her when she killed — it’s likely that no one came forward to claim her body.
“Several of us who went to school with her would like to have her reinterred in a Jewish cemetery to acknowledge her existence,” Landsman said. “There are a bunch of us who would contribute to the burial.”
One idea, she said, is for the Ramaz School or Feterman’s family to sue the driver who fatally struck her, and for the damages money then to be used to create a scholarship fund in Feterman’s name at her alma mater. That would be fitting, Landsman said, since Feterman was a scholarship student.
A spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did not respond to a request for information on where Susan Feterman was buried.
In case you can’t locate dear Susan, she is in good company and sacred ground on Hart’s Island. I always planed to be cremated, but when I heard of the mass burials at Hart, I took the bus to City Island and got as close as I could. Meditated upon its shore across the channel. I though, that’s where I want to be…with this great unnamed humanity. Not that they are there, but an overwhelming sense of solidarity was felt. It’s a blessed place for all people, no matter religion. It’s been made sacred by such souls as Susan. All the best. Ride on Susan.
Thank you Lincoln, a very nice article.