Susan Elizabeth Watanabe, TV Writer and Activist, Dies at 49

August 27, 2018 11:26AM PT

Television writer and activist Susan Elizabeth Watanabe, the wife of SAG-AFTRA National executivedirector David White, died Sunday of a brain tumor, her family announced. She was 49.

Watanabe was a native of Chicago who worked on the series “Girlfriends” and “One-on-One.” She supported progressive candidates and causes, new authors, young professionals and community groups. She was the inspiration for the founding of Susan’s Circle last year after she was diagnosed with the tumor.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “It is with deep sadness and regret, as well as joy and gratitude, that we mark the life and transition of Susan Watanabe, the extraordinary wife of David White. Susan was a warrior with a gentle soul. Among her many noteworthy contributions to humanity, Susan changed lives as a social worker, community activist and curious spirit whose keen insight ultimately led to a career as a television writer.”

Carteris added: “David once said that Susan was the center of good in their universe. Whether reading with their daughter Sophia, or discovering new wonders of joy with David, she was a towering presence of love and comfort. She was also a woman of uncommon grace whose serene countenance hid a tremendous sense of humor. Her presence will be missed, but her brilliant light will never dim. On behalf of our membership and staff, I send our love and condolences to David and Sophia, their family and friends. Rest in peace and power Susan.”​

Watanabe is survived by her husband; their 9-year-old daughter, Sophia; her parents; and brother. A memorial service will be held Sept. 15 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Susan’s Circle, a foundation established by friends in her name and housed within the Liberty Hill Foundation.