Susan Gordon Lydon, a founding editor of Rolling Stone and a former Oakland Tribune columnist, died July 15 in Florida after a long battle with cancer. She was 61.

Ms. Lydon was a talented writer who authored three books and contributed to numerous publications over the years, including Ramparts, the Village Voice, the New York Times Magazine and The New York Daily News.

She returned from London's mod scene to a Bay Area in the midst of the cultural revolution in the 1960s. After stops in New York, Minnesota and Boston, she eventually made her way to Oakland.

"My mother was a fierce, powerful and brave woman," said daughter Shuna Lydon of San Francisco. "She lived a life so rich with truth and warmth there are few who do not feel forever in debt to her friendship and companionship."

She was born Nov. 14, 1943, in the Bronx borough of New York City and grew up in Island Park. She earned a full scholarship for Vassar College and graduated in 1965 as a history major. At heart she was a writer.

"I know that deep down, if she had to identify herself it would be as 'writer,'" said friend Mary Peacock of New York. "That was her core self-definition. She was always writing.

"Her writing was pretty straightforward," she added. "What made it good is that she would throw out a personal comment that rang so recognizably true. That's what would keep you pulled in — a little observation, very plain, but so right on. That was one of her gifts as a writer."

"She was writing during a time when women weren't taken seriously as journalists, she paved the way for other women," her daughter said. At the time, her mother was often one of the only women in the office.

"On some level, she was a feminist before that word even existed," she said. "Her feminism wasn't rhetoric, it was action. She didn't believe in rhetoric."

Ms. Lydon started one of the first feminist groups in Berkeley. She also wrote the 1970 feminist essay "The Politics of Orgasm." It is now on the syllabus of some college courses.

"Women were coming to her, telling her how that article affected them. They confided in her," Shuna Lydon said.

"She was aware of the women's movement, the political movement, rock'n' roll movement — all those things fermenting on the West Coast. She was smack dab in the middle," Peacock said. "She moved in a lot of different worlds. She had friends from all these different parts of her life — journalism friends, 12-step friends, Arica friends, rock'n' roll friends."

She wrote three books: "Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor," published in 1993; "The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice," published in 1997; and "Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the Heart with Craft," published last month.

She also started and ran a newspaper for the spiritual school Arica, called "The No Time Times."

Ms. Lydon started knitting when she was little, but really picked it up in college. She eventually became a master knitter. "My mom was really touch-oriented, extremely tactile. Her writing and crafts — all done with your hands," her daughter said.

"She was a brilliant intellectual, she just knew everything. She was just way too smart for her own good," friend Marilyn Rinzler of Berkeley said. "She was an amazing, strong, funny and spiritual person. Throughout her whole illness she showed tremendous strength. She was really in touch with her emotions."

Ms. Lydon moved to the Bay Area in 1989 to be closer to her daughter. She started as a copy editor for the Oakland Tribune and its sister ANG newspapers in 1996, and later became a deputy regional editor.

In 2001, she started writing a column, "Cityscape." In it "she got to celebrate a city that she loved by really highlighting the people who lived there," her daughter said. "She lived in East Oakland her time here. She knew a part of Oakland that most didn't — and she was proud of that."

"Susan was a very popular columnist, whose talent in weaving words together and eye for interesting people and details made her a compelling storyteller," said Tribune Editor Mario Dianda. As good an editor as she was, her biggest strength was writing, and she loved having her own column, he said.

Ms. Lydon had a wry sense of humor and was unflinchingly frank, Dianda said.

She had been on medical leave since December 2002.

Two weeks ago, she moved to Florida to spend the end of her life surrounded by family, her daughter said.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Lydon is survived by mother Eve Gordon, sisters Lorraine Garnett and Sheila Wolff, and brother Ricky Ian Gordon.

Details will be announced later about a fall memorial service in Berkeley.

Contributions can be made to Hospice By The Sea Inc., 1531 W. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, FL, 33486-3395.