No, she didn’t want to be a secretary. Susan Fuder was asked that during five job interviews.
Fuder wanted to be a City of Marietta police officer in 1972.
“I liked to help people and I thought that was the best way to do it,” Fuder told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The 22-year-old was hired under a few conditions, she said. She had to promise not to get pregnant within two years. She would have to go through the same training as her male colleagues, but she couldn’t wear the same uniform.
“I had to dress in an A-line skirt, even though I thought I should wear pants,” Fuder said.
The dress code was changed within a few weeks of her hiring and she was allowed to wear pants. And Fuder would pave the way for countless others as one of the first women to serve as a police officer in metro Atlanta.
“It didn’t really occur to me then,” Fuder said. “I wasn’t doing it to try to be the first at something. It just happened that way. I’m just glad I got to serve there.”
Earlier this month, the Marietta Police Department honored Fuder at a ceremony celebrating female officers.
Chief Marty Ferrell said while 13% of all officers across the country are women, the number is at 22% for the Marietta department. In September, former Major Tanya Twaddell was named Deputy Chief for the agency, the first woman to hold the position.
Fuder shared memories of her time wearing the badge at the ceremony, where other female officers were also honored.
In the beginning, Fuder said, most of the other officers were apprehensive about her working alongside them. And the officers’ wives also weren’t happy.
But Fuder said she worked hard and wanted to be treated just like the others. While training at a GBI facility, Fuder had one wing of the barracks to herself since she was the only woman there. During her training, Fuder’s grandmother helped care for her 3-year-old son while her husband worked as a high school coach.
“I needed to be flawless,” Fuder told those at the ceremony.
Fuder recalled one assignment when she was sent to arrest two brothers. They were known to be drunks and were armed with knives. While in the back of her patrol car, one of the men asked her to marry him, Fuder said with a laugh.
When she returned to the police station with her two suspects, her co-workers were stunned, Fuder recalled.
“People looked at me funny for being a police officer, being a female,” she said. “But for the most part, they were respectful of me.”
Fuder calls her husband, Frank, the “best man I know,” and his support always helped her thrive in a male-dominated field. Frank Fuder said he knew to behave when his wife was in uniform with a gun on her belt.
“I kept my mouth shut until she put it away,” he joked.
Susan Fuder served the city for 10 years, retiring as a corporal after starting the department’s crime prevention unit. From there, her family moved to Florida, where she finished her bachelor’s degree and earned a master’s degree and switched careers. Fuder taught English, worked as a school guidance counselor and served as a librarian, she said.
These days, Fuder works as an antiques dealer and appraiser. She said she’s grateful for her time as a Marietta officer, but isn’t sure it’s a job she could do now, even if she was younger.
“I don’t think I would because of the attitude of the general public,” she said. “I feel like the relationship between the public and police has gone downhill and I really hate that. There are so many great police officers.”
Fuder says she’s had a great life, and isn’t done yet. A recent surgery didn’t slow her long, and she was grateful to return to Marietta for the recent ceremony. She particularly enjoyed meeting so many other women who followed her into law enforcement.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that big a deal,” she said. “They thanked me. Several of them hugged me and thanked me for blazing the trail.”