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Sometimes you just know.

It works.

Everything makes sense.

And you look skyward and say thank you for making it so.

When I arrived as the new managing editor of the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings 6½ years ago, the news team was already in place. I inherited a good group. I felt blessed.

Highest on my list of blessings, I quickly found out, was our office manager, a Lake Oswego woman with a heart of gold. Her name: Susan Mansfield. There's no way to do justice in describing Susan. Quite simply, she's a remarkable person. Over the years, she's made many of you feel at home - either by telephone or in our newspaper office, first back at 111 A Ave., and, for the past year and a half, here at 400 Second St. in Lake Oswego.

She's laughed with you, cried with you, answered your questions, dealt with your concerns and she's done it all with a degree of professionalism and humanity that you quite simply don't see any more. She's written the obituaries on your relatives, the wedding and engagement stories about your kids; the anniversary stories on your parents; and the birth notices on your children or grandchildren. And she's done it in a way that simply makes you say, 'thank you for treating me so well.'

Away from the job, she is equally active, playing a vital role with her church, Christ Church Episcopal. She and her wonderful husband Chuck have actively been involved in outreach, in taking meals to homeless folks in downtown Portland. She's involved in her PEO group and a host of other activities.

The Mansfields have raised remarkable children and are collectively enjoying the benefits of their grandchildren. They have an enormous circle of friends and it is simply astounding how much joy is in their lives.

Susan engages you; she forces you to think. She seemingly knows the answer to virtually everything and she does all that she's asked to do and more - so much more - with a gracious smile and an infectious laugh. She's our go-to person for questions about the local area and beyond.

At office functions, she always makes sure everyone has enough on their plates before she sits down. If someone is down in the dumps, it's Susan that brings them back up.

A few years back, Susan and Chuck moved from their beautiful home on the west side of Lake Oswego to a lovely condo on the Willamette River. They later decided the condo lifestyle wasn't for them (and their children and grandchildren) and bought a gorgeous home in West Linn. Each move forced me to hold my breath because I feared there would be an accompanying announcement: 'I'm going to retire.'

Fortunately for all of us here at the Review and Tidings, we survived the first two moves by the Mansfields. But earlier this summer Susan let us know that she was finally ready for a change, needed to spend more time with her grandkids and wanted to be with Chuck more.

That sad - for us - announcement brings us to this week. Friday is Susan's last day with the Review and Tidings. I am so very happy for her and Chuck as they are two of the finest people I have ever met. They deserve their time together … they deserve all the happiness that is coming their way, including an upcoming journey to Europe.

Despite their good fortune, I have to confess something: Her leaving is really hard on us … on me. Susan was my first new friend when my wife and I moved up here in 2001. Whether she wanted to be or not, she has been our good friend ever since.

You know how there are people out there who just make a difference, who make an impact, who make you smile, that, quite frankly, are just better than the rest of us? My friend Susan Mansfield probably won't like me going on about her and gushing the way I am, but I can't help it, she's one of those special people. She's a one-of-a-kind person and we feel so lucky to be able to share a portion of her life.

Often when you read flowery words about someone in a newspaper, it happens because you are looking at an obituary or quotes from an eulogy. Fortunately for all of us, Susan continues to live in our midst, doing great things, smiling her smile, laughing her laugh and making life better for those around her. Look for her as you make your rounds in West Linn and Lake Oswego.

After 13 years here at the Review and Tidings, Susan is making a change. Our loss is the community's gain.

You go girl.

And don't be a stranger.

Martin Forbes is the managing editor of the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings.

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