There is joy laced with sadness in Pat Hogan’s voice as she recounts a special memory of friend and popular lesbian DJ Susan Yeager.
“She had this long blonde hair and had her headphones on, and she was just kind of enclosed in the music and dancing away onstage,” Hogan recalls. “I loved watching Susan DJ. She was a very high-energy person. She was just a joy to be around.”
Yeager, who was well known and loved by many in the queer community for her musical talent, volunteerism and sports involvement, had battled ovarian cancer for more than three years before succumbing to her illness March 7. She was 51.
Friends say family was the most important thing to Yeager, who leaves to mourn her partner, Diane Driver, daughter, Alexandra, and sister, Debby.
Described as “lighthearted,” “fun” and “considerate” by those who knew her best, Yeager’s passing has left a gaping hole in the hearts of her family and friends and is a great loss to the queer community.
“It is horrendous,” says friend and fellow DJ Jacquie Hope. “We became extremely close.”
Hope and Yeager had spent the last four years DJing together for local queer dances and parties. Known as the Duelling DJs – a name coined by Yeager – the two women performed throughout Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
“We joined forces once we discovered each other. The first dance we did, we pretended that we were sword fighting and duelling behind the DJ table,” Hope says, laughing as she recalls Yeager’s keen sense of humour. “Susan was very happy, very caring and very giving of herself to the community.”
Yeager lent her time and talent to help the fundraising efforts of many queer community organizations, including a gay youth alliance, Leaping Thespians theatre group and the annual Cancer Buster Dance, a fundraiser to support the Canadian Cancer Foundation.
She loved sport and dedicated herself wholeheartedly to playing touch football, soccer and softball — the latter being a prime passion, says friend and fellow softball player Kathy Hogarth.
For the past 16 years, Yeager had been a valued member of the Mabel League. Yeager and Hogarth were teammates on the Wombats before Yeager went on to play for the Dirt Devils and the BB9s.
“Even though she was sick, you would never have known it,” says fellow Mabel leaguer Debbie Grimshaw, noting that Yeager continued to attend softball practices, even as she underwent chemotherapy.
It is Yeager’s selflessness and genuine concern for others that Hogarth says she will miss most. “She was somebody who put other people above herself. She was genuinely interested in knowing how somebody was.”
She also remembers Yeager’s passion for music and for putting on parties anywhere she could find a space to bring women together. “Many relationships were formed at these dances and are still going strong.”
“It will be hard to go to a dance because Susan is not going to be there; it’s not going to be a party without her,” Grimshaw says.
Yeager’s friends say her characteristic courage and strong will remained intact right up to the end of her life.
“She was a fighter,” Hope says. “We will miss her for the rest of our own lives.”
Celebration of Life for Susan Yeager
Sun, March 17, 2pm
Coast Plaza Hotel
1763 Comox St
Shoreline Room, 35th floor
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Susan’s name to ovarian cancer research at ovariancanada.org.