Suzanne Goodwin had a keen visual eye. She knew just what piece would make a room pop.
Her ability to transform houses into elegant and sophisticated living spaces made her well known throughout the Twin Cities and attracted repeat customers to her one-woman interior design studio.
“She was very good at understanding what the client wanted, rather than what she wanted,” said her husband, David Goodwin. “She always listened.”
Goodwin, a gregarious designer known for her brilliant smile and a hearty laugh, died Aug. 20 of the extremely rare and aggressive Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. She was 75.
Born June 1, 1944, in Minneapolis, she exhibited a flair for fashion and developed striking features at a young age, relatives said. The former beauty queen — who served as the Hopkins Raspberry Festival queen and Aquatennial princess — caught David’s eye in homeroom at Hopkins High School. The sweethearts dated for several years into college before calling it quits.
Goodwin married and divorced, then reconnected by chance with David seven years later at a Perkins restaurant. He’d never moved on. “I stayed in love with Sue,” he said. They had been married for 47 years when she died.
Nearly a decade after earning her bachelor’s degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota, Goodwin returned to school for an interior design degree — all while raising three young children.
She built a contemporary portfolio at Design Mark collaborative before launching her namesake business, Suzanne Goodwin and Associates Interior Design, in 2001.
Though Goodwin is not remembered for any one signature style, colleagues say she found a way to place her own personal touches on each project. “She could take anyone’s tastes and create something they would love,” said her daughter Lise Crosby. “She could always find it for you, no matter what you were looking for.”
Goodwin co-chaired the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers’ annual Showcase Home event for several years in the early 2000s, where she won praise for eclectic decor. Longtime associates like Bonnie Birnbaum said Goodwin volunteered to mentor many aspiring young designers.
Loved ones say Goodwin’s impeccable taste extended to her wardrobe.
“She was drop-dead gorgeous,” her daughter said. “People always thought we were sisters, which was her favorite thing.”
In her free time, Goodwin enjoyed hosting dinner parties, sailing around the world and vacationing at her self-designed second home in Del Mar, Calif.
Friends and family praised her boundless energy that never seemed to slow — even at the end.
Goodwin’s swan song was designing her close friend’s downtown loft overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge. The yearlong project sent her scouring through showrooms in pursuit of the right aesthetic.
“Every single piece was perfect,” said philanthropist Nancy Lindahl, a longtime friend and client. “I can’t walk through this place without seeing her.”
The condo’s finishing touch, a specially ordered chest, arrived a few weeks after Goodwin’s death. “I’m just sad she’s not here to share it with me.”
Besides her husband and daughter, Goodwin, of Deephaven, is survived by her father, Wilbur Sheets; sons Josh Stahl and Ben Goodwin; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Bearpath Golf and Country Club, where mourners can sip her favorite cocktail, cucumber vodka martinis.
Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648