1928 - Helen Suzanne LaFollette Culley is born in Colfax, Washington, to her father, LeRoy LaFollette and mother, Hellen Walters La Follette. Suzanne grows up living on her Grandparents wheat farm over the weekends,and her parents’ house in downtown Colfax, during the week. As a small child, Suzanne listens to her father Roy play fiddle in front of the fire during the evenings. She starts the violin at age 3 with her Dad’s tutelage and at age 4, she studies piano with pianist Earl Blew.
1941-1943 - Suzanne attends Colfax Berkeley High School as a freshman, Suzanne is the Concert Mistress of Berkeley High School Orchestra and receives various awards for piano and violin competitions in Spokane, Washington. Teachers and students hear Suzanne from the music department bungalow, bare foot and chewing wheat kernels from her wheat farm, banging out the Grieg Piano Concerto -a piece for a graduate piano student! Suzanne spends hours practicing her musical instruments as a child.
1943 -1944 - During WWII, women are called into jobs that are usually for men.
On the wheat farms of Colfax, they need crop dusters. Suzanne takes the job, gets her pilot's license and becomes a crop duster for 2 years during WWII - Suzanne flies before she receives her driver’s license!
1944 - Suzanne begins Mills College and starts studying violin with the concert master
of the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Naoum Blinder.
1944-1947 - Suzanne graduates from all girls Mills College.