'Don't let evil win, keep fighting'
By Eric Mathison
As the parents and siblings of the 20 children killed at the Connecticut elementary school grieve their unfathomable loss, a Burien public official says she knows exactly how they feel.
On Feb 12, 1998, Southwest Suburban Sewer District commissioner Susan (Suzy) Genzale’s 16-year-old son, Anthony William Genzale was murdered.
Known by everyone as “Moosh,” Anthony’s mother remembers him as a born salesman, an ace diver, and a hilarious comic.
Genzale is adamant that this story not be about her; that she doesn’t come off as a hero.
But she feels compelled by the school shooting to talk about her and her family’s journey in hopes it will help others facing similar tragic circumstances.
“It never gets better, it just gets different,” Genzale declared. “You learn to cope.”
She urges the parents and siblings, “Don’t let evil win. Keep fighting even though it is so hard.”
A defining moment came for her three months after her son’s death at the trial sentencing when she confronted her son’s killer and told him, “You will not take another thing from me. My family will survive this. We will learn to stay together. We will find joy. We will keep Anthony’s memory alive.
“You, on the other hand, will rot in hell.”
Genzale adds, “I’m not saying we didn’t sometimes take 10 steps back and two steps forward. But my husband and I said we would stay strong. We would be there for our kids. They could say, ‘Mom and Dad had courage.’”
She said they didn’t want their children, Joey and Jenna to feel their parents didn’t care about them because of their grief over Anthony.
“We were all broken. We all fell and got back up—two or three times,” Genzale declared.
She admits she stayed mostly in bed for six months after the tragedy before deciding to get up and get on with her life.
She credits her husband, also named Anthony, for being her “rock.”
“Not many people stay married after something like this. His words are what kept me going,” Genzale said.
She called her husband an “icon in the community.”
Tony’s Market at South 128th Street and Ambaum Boulevard Southwest grew over 100 percent in the year he managed it, Genzale reports.
But Associated Grocers closed all its stores because of financial difficulties. Her husband then opened the produce stand at 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Barton Street in West Seattle.
Genzale is happy to report both their children have grown up to have successful careers. Joey was just graduating from Highline High School when his younger brother was killed. Joey is now an expert hunting and fishing guide as well as manager of the family produce stand.
Jenna, only 14 when her brother died, is a marriage and family therapist who works with domestic violence cases and abused children.
Genzale also found comfort in another outlet--her horses. She is an advocate of the Horse Whisper’s “Vaquero” style of riding where the rider becomes one with the horse.
“There are times when my nerves have been shot but the horses have kept me upright,’ Genzale noted.
Unfortunately tragedy sometimes strikes more than once.
Tony, her beloved husband, died suddenly two years ago at age 61.
“We were the dynamic duo and I’m struggling without him,” she said.
She was appointed to Tony’s seat on the sewer district commission and won election in an uncontested race. She calls the district her family and says she loves serving on the commission.
Meanwhile, she recognizes the importance of keeping alive the memory of her son.
“I keep talking about him,” Genzale said. “He is all over the house and he helps me get through every day.
“I know he is safe. I know my husband is with him.”