Aug. 9, 1948 - Jan. 13, 2023
LONGMONT, CO - Barbara Jean "BJ" Suter, 74, died January 13, 2023 at Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont after a private year-and-a-half long battle with breast cancer, accompanied shortly before her death by her long-time friend and housemate David Coile.
BJ was born August 9th, 1948 in Dayton, Ohio, to Dale and Helen Suter and spent her early years in Centerville, south of Dayton. At the age of four, she knocked out her front tooth on her family's piano and began her musical career.
After the family moved to Troy, Ohio, in 1956, she mastered the piano and later joined the high school band and learned the flute, violin, sousaphone and tenor drumthough the guitar soon became her primary instrument. She then explored choral music, winning a state music competition with a 6-voice ensemble, and was named "Most Valuable Musician" her senior year. From there she went on to earn degrees in music, art and German from Bluffton College in 1970.
Shortly after her college graduation, BJ moved to Miami, Florida, where she worked as a professional musician, performing in an acoustic vocal trio. After meeting her now-divorced husband and moving with him to Boise, Idaho and then Boulder, Colorado, she became ensconced in the local bluegrass scene, learned to play the banjo, and helped nurture nascent festivals as part of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society, with whom she served seven years as President. She was a regular staff member at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass and Rockygrass Academy, Folks Fest and the Rocky Mountain Song School, among others.
As a performer, BJ played in many ensembles, ultimately placing 2nd in the Telluride Band competition, and was a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour competition. As a songwriter, she was selected for the International Bluegrass Music Association's "World of Bluegrass"
Songwriter Showcase in Nashville. She was a prolific songwriter, devoted to writing a song a week for the last several years of her life, including many collaborations with performers such as the popular Rebecca Folsom. BJ was working on recording her first album, which is expected to be completed this summer.
BJ worked for 30 years for the City of Boulder's Housing and Human Services Department. After retiring in 2015, she volunteered to help organize finances for the underprivileged, to teach English to native Spanish-speakers, and as a docent for the Denver Art Museum. She was also a member of several art groups and classes, producing many lovely pastel paintings, sketches and other visual pieces.
BJ was preceded in death by her father, mother, and brother David and is survived by her brother Ralph. She had no children.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, February 11, 2023, at Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services of Bluffton, Ohio. A memorial gathering that is expected to include performances by many of her musical friends is being planned for later this spring.
To be notified about the gathering and the album or to share memories of BJ for possible inclusion in a longer biography her friends and brother are planning, email
Funeral Home Information
Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services
239 S Main St