Susan Reed McQueen, 71, who traveled the world as a State Department interior designer for U.S. embassies for 25 years, died Oct. 24 of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia at the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center in Baltimore. She had lived in the District's Foggy Bottom neighborhood since 1963.
Mrs. McQueen began working in late 1963 for the State Department's Office of Foreign Buildings Operations, now known as Overseas Buildings Operations.
In 1971, she became chief of the interior design and furnishing branch of Foreign Buildings Operations and enjoyed what she called "the most glamorous job of any." Her work took her to 87 countries, most of them multiple times, to work with ambassadors and their spouses, as well as officers and staff members of U.S. embassies around the world. She retired in 1988.
Born Susan Ellison Reed in Sewickley, Pa., she was the daughter of Jonathan Duff Reed, a helmsman on Adm. Richard Byrd's first expeditions to the North Pole, and Alice Williams, an attorney with the New York City Housing Authority. Byrd became Mrs. McQueen's godfather.
Mrs. McQueen graduated from Vassar College in New York in 1954 and moved to New York City to pursue a career in interior design. After a two-year stint with a firm specializing in restaurant and bar design, she landed a position with the prestigious design studio of Virginia Connors-Mosely. She joined the American Society of Interior Designers and remained a member throughout her career.
She was always up for a challenge, such as in 1969, when a suitor took her for a flight in a private plane and suggested that they get pilot's licenses. She enrolled in flight school at Lee Field in Edgewater. She flew her solo flight at Easton, Md., in 1970. Her suitor, however, never completed his training.
She later trained for scuba diving and obtained a license in that field as well.
In 1971, she met Robert Laird McQueen, whom she married four years later.
In retirement, she and her husband spent several years cruising the waterways of the East Coast from Delaware to the Bahamas on their boat, the Pied a Mer. During their 25-year boating career, Mrs. McQueen served in various positions with the Rose Haven Yacht Club, including as a past commodore. She was also a member of Holiday Point Yacht Club and the Chesapeake Commodore's Club, as well as former president of the Elise Tenant Council in Foggy Bottom.
Survivors include her husband.