On a recent Sunday afternoon, Dan and Sug Schusterman sat side by side on a couch in their great room, sometimes holding hands, as they talked about their relationship and each other.
Sug, who once competed for the Miss America title after being crowned Miss New Mexico, has always been stunning. Warm and endearingly hospitable, she’s also effortlessly poised and sophisticated. “You could put a shower curtain on her and she’d look good,” her husband said. But that’s not why he pursued her years ago, even after she initially turned him down – twice. “She’s not only beautiful, she’s also very smart,” Dan said, seriously. “I’m a very lucky guy.”
Embarrassed at his admission, Sug giggled and laid her head on his shoulder for a moment, before she responded: “He is charismatic and entertaining. He supports me in everything I do. He is also willing to share his time.” Her husband has also shared his biological children and their grandchildren, she added. Dan shook his head and smiled. “When the phone rings, they don’t want to talk to me. She has been a fabulous stepmother, friend and confidant.”
The adoration is mutual. “We respect and like each other,” said Sug. “It’s not just love,” added Dan. “We genuinely like each other. We work as a team.”
“We think that makes sense,” she said.
More than two decades ago, Dan needed a date to a social function, so he called upon his friend Carla Sue for help. She sent him a list that contained the names of the River City’s five most eligible single gals she thought would be a good match for the bachelor with a note at the bottom that said “and many, many more.” Sug was one of the ladies listed, and since Dan had met her briefly at a previous event, he decided to ring her and ask her out on a date. “First time I called her up, she said she couldn’t go because she was washing the windows,” he said. So Dan tried again. This time “she said she couldn’t go because she was going to the zoo.” Sug shrugged her shoulders and chuckled. “I had a date.” The third time – which Dan had decided would most likely be his last attempt – was August 16, 1990. They’ve been together ever since.
Three times, Dan? What compelled you to ask Sug out after she’d already turned you down twice?
“I hate rejection,” he said.
How did he propose?
“He took me to New York,” she said, “and on Sunday morning he proposed.” Afterwards, Dan expressed his desire to get permission from Sug’s father, Bill Conn. “She said, “˜At our age? What are you talking about?’ ” Mr. Conn was a great man, explained Dan. “He was also a man of very, very, very few words. He made (the 30th president of the United States) Calvin Coolidge (who was known for his quiet, serious demeanor) look garrulous.” When Sug asked her father what he thought about the proposal, Mr. Conn gave an answer that tickles the couple still: “His comment was, “˜I guess that’s the best you’re going to do,’ ” she recalled.
Why did you choose to get married the day before the Fourth of July in 1993?
“Because I wanted a big celebration,” Dan said, only half joking. The real reason, explained Sug, was because “our guests could come in for the weekend and then stay and take their time because it was a holiday. I remember it was the hottest day of the year.”
How do you make it work on a day-to-day basis?
“In our relationship, Sug is my partner,” said Dan. “We like each other as people, but first of all there’s respect,” she added. “That’s what makes it work.”
Do you have a system for dividing up household chores?
“I just say, “˜Yes dear,’ ” Dan joked. But really, they share a philosophy: “It if needs to be done, we do it,” Sug said.
Where do you like to go when you’re out “˜n’ about?
The Schustermans enjoy going to the movies, frequenting locally-owned restaurants and attending theater performances. They also attend numerous charity events, including ones that support the nonprofits that are near and dear. Though they’ve both been involved in volunteer work for decades, “When we retired, we really wanted to step up and do something,” Dan said. “We both love causes that benefit children,” said Sug.
Is there anything you always do together as a couple?
“We always empty the kitty litter,” Sug quipped. “We always tell each other “˜I love you,’ ” Dan added. “Everyday. At least once,” she affirmed.
What advice would you offer to couples – new and old – who desire to walk together through life in tandem?
Long before the two met, when Sug was a college student, an Episcopal pastor told her, “When you’re looking for a partner, my advice is that you focus on the things you don’t like about a person because the things you don’t like will still be there in 20, 30 years.” Dan always thought that was sound advice. “You have to ask yourself would you like this person as your best friend?” he said.
Both agreed mutual respect is imperative. So is being careful about speaking harshly to one another. “Be sure that your brain is in gear before you put your mouth in motion,” said Dan.
And never forget, said Sug, “Anything is possible – as long as you don’t care who gets the credit.”
July 3, 1993
Dan’s five biological children, 5 grandchildren, and cats Frosts and Kitzel.
A gorgeous home – with his “˜n’ her bathrooms and closets – tucked away in St. Matthews.
Dan and Sug are well known for being philanthropists before and since they both retired, he from an executive role with Brown-Forman, she from a public relations position with the historic Brown Hotel. Among their current charitable passions: He’s an active board member of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and she is an executive committee member of the Heuser Hearing & Language Academy board and serves on the Kentucky Derby Museum Gala board.
Cats or Cards?
Both – but when the University of Louisville is playing the University of Kentucky, they cheer for the Cards.
Category: In Tandem
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.