Susan Picus, an internationally known world bridge champion, died Nov. 17, 2021, in Manhattan.
A longtime resident of New York City, she was raised in Milwaukee and graduated from Washington High School. The daughter of Roy and Rita (Peckarsky) Picus, Sue Picus is survived by husband, Barry Rigal, who was her favorite bridge partner. Other survivors are brothers Peter (Shelly) Picus, Michael Picus and David (Celine) Picus as well as cousins Steve (Sharon), Picus, Laurie (Allan) Weiss, Barbara (Ira) Fleischer, Sheldon (Adele) Arenson, Barbara (Todd) Mead, Lee (Lori) Peckarsky, Peter Peckarsky, Peter Carl (Andrea) Peckarsky, Craig Peckarsky, Pamela Peckarsky Nonken and Pettra Peckarsky (Steven) Pollack plus nieces, nephews, friends and bridge colleagues.
Sue graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in mathematics where, in her spare time, she became a bridge expert. She later earned a master’s degree in mathematics from New York University. Susan was an innovator in Computer Science, serving as a software manager on the compiler development groups for the now-famous Bell Labs Team that developed the original Unix Operating System, for which she held several patents. In London, Sue represented Bell Labs (later Unix Software Labs) to define global Unix standards. She was a pioneer, as a woman in leadership in a male-dominated engineering field and, by quiet example, stood as an early advocate for gender equality.
Competing in National and International Bridge tournaments, including the McConnel Cup and Machlin Women’s Swiss Teams, Sue earned the title of World Grand Master. At the world’s most prestigious bridge biannual event for women, the Venice Cup, Susan represented the United States as member of the winning teams in 1991, 1993 and 2003, and earned a silver medal in 1995. Sue later won the Venice Cup twice as non-playing captain.
The center of Sue’s life and main source of her happiness was her love for Barry Rigal, another bridge champion, whom she married in 1997. Together they traveled the world, playing bridge and deepening friendships within the worldwide bridge community. In addition to her natural playing expertise, Sue was widely admired for her pleasant and calm demeanor. Her partnerships and teams always performed beyond the level of their combined skills, because Sue was such an encouraging team leader.
In her work as a software group manager, in her bridge career, including coaching, and in her personal relationships, Sue had a natural ability and inclination to offer advice and leadership, while bringing out the best in everyone. Her steadfast optimism and love of people was evidenced in her final year in a rehab facility, in which she touched the hearts of all those who looked after her, and indeed, of all who knew her.