Sheffield hiker who fell to her death was active, involved in the Berkshires


SHEFFIELD — Joan Sussman was remembered with love and fondness on Sunday.

Sussman, 67, died on Friday night after being injured after a fall onto a rock outcropping on Monument Mountain in Great Barrington. Her family said she frequently hiked the area.

Her husband, William Ritt, and her son, Max Ritt, posted a tribute to Sussman on her Facebook page.

"Joan's energy and force was warm like the sun," they posted, in part. "The people that were lucky enough to know her were nourished by her light. Her blind courage and sense of adventure will live on in each and every being she touched."

The eloquent post ended with, "We do not say goodbye, but say thank you! Our hearts swell with the memories and gratitude for sharing this life with you."

Sussman was a member of the Ahavath Shalom congregation.

"I have known Joan for about 30 years," said Barbara Cohen, the spiritual leader at Ahavath Shalom. "In all that time, she never ceased to amaze me. Her energy, her direct way of speaking, her creativity, they all seemed to erupt from a limitless spring. Her loss will be felt by our Ahavath Shalom community and many others."

Sussman was extremely active in a host of local organizations. She was a volunteer at the Berkshire Center for Justice in Great Barrington, a nonprofit that provides affordable legal advice and free legal clinics to clients of modest means.

Sussman was also a dedicated supporter of Berkshire Grown, another local nonprofit that promotes and supports local agriculture as a vita part of the local economy.

On Sunday, the organization posted condolences to Sussman's family in the wake of the tragedy.

Sussman was an experienced hiker, and had traversed the local trails often. Family members told local police that she often hiked alone. One of her last Facebook posts was a photo of a trail on Monument Mountain she was hiking.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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