Susan Bathrick Fischer, who grew up in Darien, died at her California home on Sunday, Feb. 12, surrounded by her family, after a battle against cancer and the lingering effects of childhood polio. She was 73.

Born Sept. 29, 1938, in New York City, she spent her childhood in Darien. "She contracted polio in 1945," her family said, "an experience that significantly shaped her force of character and the intense drive that defined the way she grappled with life and engaged the people around her."

She graduated from Darien High School in 1956, where she was active in student government. Mrs. Fischer attending Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y., followed by a year of study at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

In 1959 she married Bill Fischer, her husband of 53 years, then a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor. She continued her education at the University of Hawaii, moving to Berkeley, Calif., in 1960 where she completed her bachelor's degree in French.

There she had two sons: Alex, born in San Francisco in 1964, and Nathan, now deceased, born in Oakland in 1966. At Berkeley she was an ardent participant in the student peace movement, her family said.

In 1967 she moved to Buffalo, N.Y., where her third son Matthew was born in 1969. Her family expanded later that year to include Jim Merigold who, over time, became her fourth son. She was a volunteer in the Head Start Program, counseled conscientious objectors at the Western New York Peace Center, and earned her master's degree in rehabilitation counseling at the University at Buffalo.

She then pursued a 20-year career at Horizon Human Services, serving as a psychotherapist in a community mental health setting. She worked extensively with Vietnam War Veterans and created a program for people with physical disabilities. Mrs. Fischer and her husband retired to Oceanside, Calif., in 2002, where she was active in voter reform and participated in politics that she felt best served the common good.

"Her vivid temperament and gift for engaging people were shaped by three remarkable women: her mother, Margaret Holmes Bathrick; her aunt, Elizabeth 'Bee' Holmes; and her childhood caretaker, Julia Richardson," her family said. "Her beauty and spirit were uncanny and inspiring, profoundly touching friends and family alike. She combined great strength with an engaging grace that inevitably drew people to her."

"She lived life fully, devoting her last years to her family, especially her beloved grandchildren: Noah and Charlie, sons of Alex and Caryn, and Linnea and Skylar, daughters of Matthew and Kristin. May her new journey be filled with the guidance, light, and sense of adventure she has so abundantly conveyed to us all."

Memorial donations may be made to the Susan B. Fischer Memorial Fund at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037.