Marmagas, Susan West

Susan West Marmagas passed away from cancer at her home in Blacksburg, Virginia, on December 23, 2018. She was 51. Susan was born in Radford, Virginia, and grew up in Blacksburg. She graduated from Blacksburg High School, from Earlham College as a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, and from the University of California, Berkeley, as a Master of Public Health.

Susan’s career was focused on seeking public health solutions to children’s health and other environmental challenges, both in her local community and around the world. She spent many years engaging health professionals and scientists in protective public policy, facilitating strategic planning discussions across the health and environment fields, and implementing evidence-based policy efforts. She testified before the U.S. Congress and served as media spokesperson on national issues such as fish consumption, mercury pollution, and children’s health. She served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee and co-chaired its Regulatory Work Group. She was a Site Visitor for the Council on Education for Public Health and a Fellow with the National Public Health Leadership Institute. She also served in leadership with the American Public Health Association, including as former Chair of its Environmental Health Section.

Susan met her husband, Bill, on New Years Eve of 1998, and they married in 2001. After living in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly a decade, Susan moved to Blacksburg with Bill in 2006 to raise a family in her hometown and give back to the community she loved. In 2008, she joined Virginia Tech where she worked to address long-standing public health challenges in Central Appalachia. With the adoption of their two daughters, Susan and Bill found a new community of lifelong friends associated with the Abrazo Adoption agency in San Antonio, Texas. Susan also built a large community of friends in Blacksburg, from coworkers, other parents, and neighbors, to complement the friends from her childhood. She developed many close friendships as a soccer and gymnastics mom. As her children grew, she organized her community to help ensure their local school, Harding Avenue Elementary, remained open. She also served on the board of the Community Health Center of the New River Valley.

In 2010, Susan joined the Public Health Program faculty at Virginia Tech as an Associate Professor of Practice in Public Health. She was also the Program Director of the Master of Public Health Program and an instructor with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, where she led an inter professionalization course on public health and medicine.

She is survived by her beloved husband of seventeen years, Bill Marmagas, of Blacksburg, Virginia, and their daughters Anastasia and Elektra; her brother and his wife, Roger and Debbie West of Silver Spring, Maryland; her sister-in-law Kathy Hood, of Brooklyn, New York; and her three nephews, Nicholas, Daniel, and Tyler. She was preceded in death by her parents, David and Lindsay West, and her brother, Peter West.

A Celebration of Susan’s Life will be held this Saturday (12/29) beginning at 2 PM at the Blacksburg United Methodist Church, Harding Avenue Campus (“Edges”) located at 706 Harding Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060. Susan’s family will also host a public visitation this Friday (12/28) from 3 to 5 PM at the McCoy Funeral Home located at 150 Country Club Dr. SW, Blacksburg, VA 24060. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either Blacksburg Battles Cancer ( or the Community Health Center of the New River Valley ( Arrangements by McCoy Funeral Home, Blacksburg.