Teacher, producer, speech therapist Susannah Haber dies at 83


Barbara Susannah Haber, known for years in La Jolla for her drama classes and theater productions and later as a speech therapist in private practice, died on March 9 in her La Jolla home. She was 83.

Born in 1926 in Bulawayo in what was then Southern Rhodesia, she was raised in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa. After World War II, she traveled to London where she met her first husband, Godfrey Tudor. They were married in South Africa where they lived until immigrating to Canada, eventually settling in La Jolla in 1956.

She taught nursery school at St. James by-the-Sea before beginning a business teaching drama lessons to children. Collaborating with local ballet teacher Babs Gordon, she mounted a well-received production at the La Jolla Community Center of “Alice and Wonderland” that combined dance and drama.

At the request of the author, Winifred Bromhall, she adapted the children’s picture book “The Princess and the Woodcutter’s Daughter” into to a musical play that was produced under her direction as a fundraiser for the La Jolla Civic Orchestra, now known as The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Association. The Rev. Lawrence Waddy, chaplain at The Bishop’s School, wrote the music. Among the prominent members of the community who took part in the production were Dr. Art Edwards, a local physician, and Dr. Hugh Bradner, inventor of the neoprene wet suit. Artist Kay Whitcomb Keith provided the design and artwork for the publicity fliers.

Also in the 1960s, she played Mrs. Darling opposite British actor Alan Mowbray in the San Diego Circle Arts Theater production of “Peter Pan.”

She opened a speech therapy practice in La Jolla and quickly built a strong reputation as an effective practitioner, attracting clients such as Nobel Prize winner Maria Goeppert-Mayer. She also worked as a counselor for the Human Development Program Workshops developed by San Diegan Dr. Harold Bessell.

She retired in 1975 when she married Joseph Lester Haber, a business executive who donated items from his art collection to the San Diego Museum of Man and the San Diego Museum of Art.

She is survived by her three children, Catriona, Fiona and Gordon, two stepsons, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on March 27 at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in Susannah Haber’s memory to San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine, 404 Camino Del Rio South Suite 200. San Diego 92108 or Alzheimer’s Association San Diego/Imperial Chapter, 6632 Convoy Court, San Diego 92111.