The Amazing Life and Death of Suzy Tomlinson

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When Suzy Tomlinson drowned in her bathtub two years ago at age 74 and it was subsequently revealed that her 36-year-old male "social companion" had taken out a $15 million insurance policy on her that was just due to expire, it raised a lot of important and serious questions, the Journal tells us today. About her death, and about the wisdom of "stranger-held insurance policies" that allow people to have a stake in a non-relative's kicking the bucket. But let's not dwell on those things. Let's talk about Suzy Tomlinson, because she was fabulous.

Here is what we know about her, from the Journal:

• She was born in Paris, where she worked as a model before marrying an American soldier and moving to the U.S. in 1960.

• She eventually divorced the soldier, then married and divorced another man who lived in Indianapolis. "Along the way," her family says, she had five kids.

• For a time, she worked as a cook at a place called Living Room Lounge in downtown Indianapolis. The owner recalls her as "an outgoing woman with a strong French accent, who would 'finish her shift and sit down and drink with the customers.'"

• In 1994, one of her daughters, whom she had given the amazing name of Tomisue Tomlinson, met a man called Stephen Hilbert, the founder of insurance company Conseco, "when Tomisue performed as a dancer at a party Mr. Hilbert attended." Ahem.

• Tomisue's charms were such that Hilbert, who was very wealthy and lived in a walled estate outside of Indianapolis, divorced his wife of sixteen years and married her, after which Suzy's fortunes improved. The Hilberts put her on salary for doing odd jobs, "set her up in her own home and gave her a Cadillac and, later, a Lincoln."

• Being, as her friends said, a "vivacious" woman, she had a lot of young friends, including JB Carlson, the 36-year-old entrepreneur whose company she invested in, who became "a social companion to the older woman for several years." She liked to party. In fact, on the last night of her life:

She accompanied Mr. Carlson to the crowded fifth-anniversary party of one of their favorite hangouts, the Blu Martini. Outgoing as always, Ms. Tomlinson at one point in the evening danced under a white umbrella with the bar's owner, Bill Pritt.


Come Monday, one of her sons found her in the bathtub, still fully clothed from her night out at a martini bar, "high heels still on her feet." This is sad and all, but then again, if you have to go, this is pretty much the way to do it, right?

Life, Death and Insurance: Indiana's $15 Million Mystery [WSJ]