Sue Aronsohn Golden, 87, of Fort Washington, an interior designer who later became a corporate vice president for SmokEnders, died of heart failure Sunday, Feb. 19, at home.
Following the example of her mother, who became a practicing attorney before women could vote, Ms. Golden started a business called Sue A. Golden Interiors in the late 1950s when it was assumed that a woman's proper role was mother and homemaker.
She ran the business from home, but traveled each week to New York in search of furniture and textiles for clients.
She worked as hard as any man, but chose a "feminine" business to make the job appear socially acceptable, her family said.
In 1974, Ms. Golden took a seminar from SmokEnders to help her quit smoking. Not only did the program work, she also began learning the various roles as moderator of the smoking-cessation course and registrar of all who attended. Over time, she became a full-time employee with the company, and the work supplanted her design business.
Ms. Golden rose quickly at SmokEnders, earning the title of regional vice president in charge of the Northeast sector. She managed a staff of 600 people and an advertising campaign with a budget in the millions. She remained at the firm until retiring in the mid-1980s.
"She had a great time with it," said son Marc. He said she was fortunate in being able to migrate from a traditional role for women to that of corporate executive, at a time when few females achieved such standing.
Born in New York City in 1930 to a well-heeled family, Ms. Golden was lucky not to be affected by the Great Depression. She graduated from Scarborough School in Ossining, N.Y., and earned a bachelor’s degree and certification in elementary education from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
While still in college, she met a young physician from Philadelphia named Mano R. Golden. They married a week after her 21st birthday and remained together until his death in July 2009.
Known for her high energy, Ms. Golden was as serious about her avocations as she was about her vocation. She was an avid hiker and mountain climber, an intrepid sailor, and an accomplished chef, who not only created her own recipes but also traveled to taste the work of the world's premier chefs.
She was a talented potter and jewelry maker. When working, her husband and two sons, Marc and Michael, knew not to go near the hot kiln or to interrupt the jewelry-welding process. "Your mother can’t come to the phone now; she has the blowtorch going," the sons were told by their father when they called.
In later years, Ms. Golden served as a docent at the Woodmere Museum in Chestnut Hill. And after her husband’s death, she indulged a passion for travel.
She was unfazed by driving alone from Pennsylvania to Florida and back at age 80, although the idea rattled her middle-aged sons. “Interesting day. Speeding ticket in South Carolina; ran out of gas in Georgia. A great way to meet the locals! Love, Mom,” she texted on Feb. 24, 2010.
Although Ms. Golden liked to grouse at having traded the bustle of Manhattan for what she called a bug-infested forest in Montgomery County, the suburbs grew on her. On Jan. 26, 2011, during a winter snowstorm that took out electricity and phone service, she texted: “Am snug. But don’t bother calling: phones are dead. I am not. Love, Mom.”
In addition to her sons, she is survived by two grandchildren.
Friends may call from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at Ms. Golden's residence. Burial is private.