Ocean Beach 08

Ruth Susan Macnofsky

August 5, 2019


“Do not grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form…” Rumi

(Ruth) Susan Macnofsky passed peacefully at her beloved home in Placitas, NM, on the gorgeous summer morning of August 5, surrounded by her family. Born in New York City, NY, to Estelle (Grossman) and Sidney Fisch, Susan grew up in Peekskill, NY on the shore of the Hudson River.

Marriage moved Susan from the East Coast to the West Coast in late 1950s, where she raised a family and established herself as a mother, artist, teacher and historic preservationist.

Graduating with a Masters of Fine Arts from San Diego State University, Susan exhibited her abstract acrylic and oil paintings throughout San Diego and taught adult art classes, including working with special needs students at St. Madelaine Sophies Center. In the early 1980s, following a second cancer diagnosis and treatment, Susan embarked on a journey of healing that ultimately led to her encounter with a revolutionary new form of therapy. Eventually, Susan was drawn to complete her LMFT certification, travelling to Switzerland to train with the founder of Sandplay Therapy, Jung’s protégé, Dora Kalff.

In 1991, Susan relocated from San Diego, CA to Albuquerque, NM to introduce the Jungian-based modality of Sandplay to the Southwest. For the next three decades, Susan devoted her life to training new therapists and working with clients of all ages. Susan was an esteemed colleague, cherished friend, talented visual artist and art therapist—as well as a Founding member of Sandplay Therapists of America and the New Mexico Sandplay Society, and the International Society For Sandplay Therapy Susan will be remembered as a ‘Deep Diver’ of life: passionate about the arts, she loved to travel internationally, and spend time with her family and her canine companions. Susan is survived by her daughters, Ellen M. McClain (Paul) and Robin M. Macnofsky (Robert Bales); grandsons, Aaron Macnofsky Bales and Ryan McClain; granddaughter, Shana McClain; life partner, Howard Sherry of Santa Fe, NM; former spouse, Stuart Macnofsky of San Diego, CA; and her beloved mini-poo, Peri.

--Excerpted with permission from New Mexico Sandplay Society: www.nmsst.org/history

“Even though the New Mexico Sandplay Society (NMSS) was formally established in 1994, New Mexico interest in Sandplay began in 1987 when Susan Macnofsky, LMFT, a registered art therapist and a founding member of the newly formed Sandplay Therapists of America (STA), was encouraged by colleagues and the Friends of Jung in San Diego to go to New Mexico and present a Sandplay case. Sandplay was warmly received, and in 1989 Susan was asked to present again at the IRIS conference in New Mexico.

After her second presentation, several art therapists approached Susan and requested she come to Albuquerque and teach them about Sandplay. For some time, Susan traveled from San Diego to Albuquerque on a regular basis to work with this initial group of therapists. By 1991 she was living part time in Albuquerque and part time in San Diego. In 1992 Susan completed her move to Placitas and continued to provide personal Sandplay process and Sandplay training to a growing group of therapists. With the support and encouragement of those early therapists, Sandplay became an active healing force in the New Mexico therapeutic community.

In 1994 NMSS was formed to support the teaching and training of Sandplay in New Mexico. This organization has been actively involved in the therapeutic community for over 20 years, providing multiple workshops, trainings and Sand Dialogues annually. NMSS also has been an integral part of the larger Sandplay community, co-hosting the ISST International conference in 1993, the STA national conference in 2002, and the STA national assembly in 2013. Most recently NMSS co-hosted the STA national conference in November 2018.”

  • THINGS SUSAN LOVED: Too many to list here—but…
  • Sharing the healing power of SandPlay Therapy with others
  • The Native American art and culture of New Mexico
  • Her grandchildren!! …and their parents, too.
  • The creative process— using watercolor, ink, acrylic, oils, handmade paper—really, any medium
  • Her devoted four-legged friends: Peri, Magic, Mystery, Sierra, Juliet, Rusty, and Romeo.
  • Reading, contemplating and discussing the intersection of spirituality, psychology and science.
  • Sharing a glass of fine wine with Howard (nod to you, Howard, for training her palette)
  • Flowers, flowers, flowers! Her rose garden! And Shells!
  • The Pacific Ocean—especially La Jolla Cove and South Mission Beach
  • Her home in Placitas looking out on majestic Sandia Mountain
  • Her lifelong friend, Joanne Querin (-now reunited)
  • Adventures—travelling with family and friends, scuba diving, shopping, dining out…
  • Sketching and preserving San Diego’s historic Victorian homes and wooden roller coaster
  • Visiting Art Galleries and Museums – especially in Florence
  • Hosting, creating and attending costume parties
  • Listening to music: classical, country, opera --or watching “The Voice”
  • The Poetry of Rumi
  • ‘Life By Chocolate’ mousse, from The Range Cafe

A Memorial for Susan will be held at the Placitas Presbyterian Church on Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 2 to 4pm.

in lieu of flowers, gifts in Susan’s name may be sent to a charitable non-profit organization. The ASPCA and St. Joseph’s School were two of Susan’s favorites.

We hope that visitors to this page will take a moment to share a favorite story or photograph of Susan. We like to say that she was like a cat with many lives—and know that she touched so many lives along her way. Please add to our list of things, people, and special places that YOU recall she loved…

To send flowers to Ruth's family, please visit our floral section.


Memorial Service
October 26, 2019

2:00 PM
Las Placitas Presbyterian Church
7 Paseo de San Antonio
Placitas, NM 87043

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