An 82-year-old feisty fire in tennis shoes

Southsider Sue Stone participates in annual marathons after completing her first Mini Marathon five years ago

By Sherri Coner

Two days before the 2023 500 Festival Mini Marathon, Sue Stone took a nasty spill on the pavement, bloodied and bruised her left arm from shoulder to fingers and banged up some ribs. She and her neighbors, Bob and Becky Reardon, were training together that day and planned to show up with more than 30,000 other excited athletes for the 13.1-mile event.

Most people who had a fall resulting in an arm being so injured they could barely move it and in excruciating pain every time they took a breath – well, most people would park their beat-up bodies on the couch after a mishap like that and watch the event on TV.

But Stone is absolutely not like most people.

To emphasize her uniqueness, it’s important to mention that she is 82 years of feisty fire in tennis shoes.

Since she refused medical attention, Stone at least agreed to give her aching body a bit of a break.

“I just did the 5-K, not the whole marathon,” she said with a shrug in her Southside kitchen.

Stone’s first marathon experience was five years ago at age 78.

While exercising at Baxter YMCA, she overheard others discussing training for “the Mini” as most people refer to the largest half-marathon in the country and the seventh largest running event in America.

“My neighbors already did it,” Stone said of the Reardons, who are at least a decade younger.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to do that. I know I can.’”

And that was that.

Southsider Sue Stone shows off an ever-growing collection of medals she has earned since deciding five years ago at 78 to walk and “prance” in marathons. (Photo by Sherri Coner)


“I did it and I got it in my blood,” she said with a grin.

Chuckling, Becky Reardon remembers that first marathon with her dear friend and neighbor.

“When we finished, Sue said, ‘I could do this again,’” Reardon said. “Then she said, ‘I’m gonna get me a big piece of chocolate cake.’”

When they returned home that day, Bob Reardon knocked on Stone’s door to announce that he was on his way to purchase a chocolate cake for her.

“Sue told Bob she had already had cake and ate the whole thing,” Reardon said with a laugh.

Since marathons are now “in her blood,” this sassy, stubborn woman insists that she absolutely had to show up for the event she loves so much, even if it was only to finish the 5K.

Hailing from Scottsville, Ky., Stone moved north at age 12 with her family.

Her father became a well-known, well-respected steeplejack who retired on his 75th birthday.

Southsider Sue Stone, decked out in a little bit of green for the Shamrock Run & Walk in Indianapolis.
(Submitted photo)

Married young, Stone raised three sons, “And then I went to work.”

One of her favorite jobs was at Jenn-Air. “I was there for 21 years until they sold to Maytag and moved to Ohio. And oh, we always had so much fun. We were a family. I miss the girls I worked with.”

Everyone at Jenn-Aire loved Stone, said Southsider Stephanie Cronley, who met Stone when they became coworkers there in 1978.

The two immediately bonded over their red hair and freckles, Cronley said. “The joke between us is that we are ginger sisters. She’s just a delight. She has the kindest heart and a beautiful soul.”

Stone’s family wasn’t the least bit shocked when she fell in love with marathons.

They already know she has no “off” switch.

When her three great-grandchildren recently visited for three weeks, “We did something every day,” Stone said.

The day before they were set to go home, the kids “cried uncle.”

“I said, ‘What are we gonna do today?’ And they hollered, “Chill!’” Stone said with a laugh.

Sue Stone claimed her first personal victory five years ago at age 78 when she participated in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. (Submitted photo)

This Kentucky girl’s sweet Southern accent is almost like a song, especially when a big smile punctuates her sentences.

Widowed for many years, Stone loves that her home is often filled with friends and neighbors.

She is fairly famous for her sun tea and cooking and baking skills.

Nearly every week, a fresh homemade pie graces the kitchen counter.


Once infected with Mini fever, Stone immediately wanted to “prance” as she calls the half walk, half run, more than once every year in the Mini.

When she discovered a March marathon, the Shamrock Run & Walk, her fun-loving personality kicked into overdrive.

Her attire was not just a little bit of green…  it was a Kelly-green explosion topped off with a green tutu.

The unstoppable Stone also walks four to six miles nearly every day with a friend.

Another annual experience happens in late June, the SHE Power Half Marathon and 5K.

“Becky and I do that one together,” Stone said of her neighbor. “We won’t miss that one. We love it. And they have the prettiest medals.”

After the 2023 marathon, Sue Stone poses with her friend Marilyn Pascall, a fellow marathon lover from Kingsport, Tenn. (Submitted photo)

As if working out every day, training for marathons and exhausting her great-grandchildren isn’t enough, here’s another stunning tidbit … she works part time as a greeter for G.H. Herrmann Funeral Home.

“I love all the people I work with there,” Stone said.

According to Marcia Coffey of Wanamaker, preplanning manager at G.H. Herrmann Funeral Homes and The Gardens at Olive Branch Cemetery, the feeling is mutual.

“Sue is just precious,” Coffey said of this Southern Bell she initially met while training for the Mini Marathon.

Grieving families also appreciate Stone, said April Herrmann, funeral director.

“Sue’s kindness, her warmth and smile, she’s so welcoming to our families,” Herrmann said.

When services aren’t yet happening for the day, Stone is the type who dusts and checks whether tissue boxes need replaced or trash cans need fresh liners.

“Sue is always looking for something to do,” Hermann said. “If she’s not running the vacuum, she’s running marathons.”