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Susan T. Dayton, dance instructor, active volunteer ; June 27, 1951 -- Dec. 30, 2010

Susan Thompson Dayton of Clarence, wife of Dr. Merril T. Dayton, chief of surgery for the Kaleida Health System and chairman of the department of surgery at the University at Buffalo Medical School, died Dec. 30 due to complications from breast cancer. She was 59.

The former Susan Thompson attended high school in Draper, Utah, south of Salt Lake City, and graduated with a degree in physical education with a dance emphasis from Brigham Young University.

A dancer from age 3 and later a dance instructor, she was known for her grace of movement and sense of style. She was a varsity cheerleader for three years at BYU and toured the U.S., Canada and Europe as a dancer with the BYU Young Ambassadors performing group. Her husband was a singer with the group. They were married shortly after she graduated in 1973.

The mother of five Eagle Scouts, she was president of the Utah State PTA and campaigned for the Utah State Senate before coming to the Buffalo area with her husband in 2003.

In Buffalo, she served on the executive board of the Network of Religious Communities, turning down an offer to be president because of her health; president of the Worldwide Organization of Women, which represents women and children at the United Nations; founder of the UB Newbies, an organization for UB faculty spouses; and president of the Buffalo Stake Relief Society, a women's organization in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was the recipient of the Exemplary Service Award from Rotary International and the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Obama.

In addition to her husband, survivors include five sons, Cameron, Damian, Brandon, Adrian and Ethan; her parents, Jimmie and Beverly Thompson; a sister, Cynthia Giles; and two brothers, James Thompson and Kerry Thompson.

A memorial service will be at noon Saturday in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center, 1424 Maple Road, Amherst.


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