In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was an unavoidable headline. At that time, a young woman by the name of Sue Wieting was teaching at a school near Quantico, Virginia.
One day, Sue came across a Red Cross advertisement seeking young women who had graduated from college to serve in Vietnam. Having grown up admiring her father’s military service in WWII, the decision was easy. She wanted to serve her country too.
Sue responded to the ad, and she found where she fit in by supporting recreational programs in military hospitals. For the first time, she was serving alongside the military, and her impact felt profound.
“Not only was it a role that I knew I would enjoy, but it also gave me an opportunity to make a difference by helping members of the military,” Sue said.
Little did she know that it was just the beginning of what would become a 50-year career with the American Red Cross.
Learning the Ropes
Throughout the years, Sue has held a variety of positions at the Red Cross. After ending her service with military hospitals in the early 1970s, Sue endeavored to take on a managerial role. She started as the Director of Youth Services for the Montgomery County Chapter in Silver Spring, Maryland, which compelled her to pursue bigger projects. She became the Division Representative of the National Capital Division in Washington, DC, and then managed the chapter in Greenville, South Carolina.
One of her favorite roles was working as the Executive Director of the San Antonio Area Chapter in Texas. In this position, Sue led Red Cross operations in a community of over one million residents. She was the first woman to manage a chapter of this size and was thrilled by the opportunity to grow in her career.
While in this role, she also met the love of her life, FJ (Frank) Richter. But their relationship wasn’t exactly amicable at first.
A Red Cross Love Story
During the spring of 1982, in the aftermath of a deadly tornado in Paris, Texas, both Sue and FJ were working to provide aid to residents.
At that time, FJ was the Red Cross Mass Care Officer in charge of feeding and sheltering people living in the affected area. Sue sent two Red Cross vans to the Paris area to help. When she later requested for them to be sent back to San Antonio for a critically important event, she realized she had a long-distance adversary in FJ, who had decided to keep the vans in the Paris area instead.
Months later, when Sue returned home to Southern Illinois for the holidays, there was significant flooding along the Mississippi River. The Red Cross set up a relief operation in nearby Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Katherine Graves, a mutual friend of both FJ and Sue, was the head nurse on the operation, and FJ was also assigned as the Mass Care Officer. While Katherine was eager to get the two to meet in person, Sue and FJ were both hesitant after the Paris debacle. When they finally met for lunch, it was love at first sight.
A year later, they were married.
A Passion for Service
In the years following, Sue continued to build her career by working as Managing Director of Midwestern Operations Headquarters in Missouri, and then serving as the Vice President of Western Operations in California.
In 1992, when she landed the position as Vice President of Armed Forces Emergency Services at National Headquarters, a position she held for 11 years, she was happily taken back to her roots of military service.
She had always been inspired by her passion for helping service members, and she loves that the Red Cross strives to ensure members of the military know when their relatives are facing an emergency back home.
“My heart will always be in our Service to Armed Forces work,” Sue said. “These young men and women raise their hands to volunteer for military service. They’re away from home and their families. And the Red Cross is there to make sure that their families know if there is an emergency, we will be there to help.”
She has instilled this same passion in her daughter, Jane, who works as a physical therapist at a military hospital in Virginia.
After working as the Service Area Executive for the Southwest Service Area in Houston, Texas, Sue retired from the Red Cross in the summer of 2005. But even during her four years of retirement, she couldn’t shake the Red Cross mission, which is why she decided to accept temporary assignments to serve as the interim CEO for the Red Cross Chapters in Pasadena, Omaha and in Minneapolis.
During her 50 years of service, Sue has made many friends, including our President and CEO Gail McGovern.
“It has been a tremendous privilege for me to get to know Sue since I first joined the Red Cross eleven years ago,” Gail said. “I truly can’t imagine a more compassionate and dedicated leader; and I’m honored to consider her not only a deeply valued colleague – but also a dear friend.”
Sue continues to serve as the Division Vice President for the Crossroads Division where she works tirelessly to make sure that her division team is doing the very best they can for the people they serve. For Sue, it’s hard to think of another organization that touches so many people in so many different ways with a mission focus as the forefront of their operations.
“I believe that the lifesaving work of the Red Cross will always be needed and will continue to evolve with the changing needs of communities across the country and around the world. I’m honored and very grateful to have played a small part in this very rich history,” Sue said.
Thank you, Sue, for your 50 years of truly remarkable service in support of our mission!
Find Your Fit at the Red Cross
To find your dream career at the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/careers.