A Fond Farewell To Suzanne Christie

with Martha Chapman

Partners in fun! Nina and Suzanne

Vanessa Lee with self-described “man
about town” Dan Galbraith

OJ main man Bruce Parkinson with
Fred Azouz

Suzanne’s brother John Arbuckle with
Karen Scott Caplice of Worldview Travel
and Jeff Element of the Travel Corp.

It was a chilly night but the friendship and camaraderie were definitely warm as a group of travel industry ladies and gents gathered to wish a fond farewell to Suzanne Christie, who recently announced her retirement from Open Jaw.

First, to set the record straight: she’s happy and fine with the whole thing. “It was a friendly and smooth transition, the lawyer said they’d never seen anything like it!” she says. “I’m learning how to be retired – it’s a thrill not to rush all the time but a huge shock to the system.” Her plans (apart from sleeping in) include spending more time at the cottage and taking, for the first time in her life, piano lessons.

Nina Slawek will of course remain at the helm and is looking to staff up.

The evening, in a cozy room at Noorden Food Bar decorated, of course, in pink feather boas, was a good opportunity to reminisce about Open Jaw and find out the attendees’ fondest memories of Suzanne. They included…

OJ cartoonist Sean Kapitain: “Every week for 15 years I’ve received payment from Suzanne, a cheque always with a really nice personal note, always fun – in a pink envelope, of course.”

Joan Haines, PR Rep for Beaches and Sandals: “I’ve known Suzanne since before Open Jaw, during her KLM days – 28 years to be precise. She’s absolutely a professional but also so much fun. She always kept her airline smile!”

OJ columnist Vanessa Lee: “It’s such a surprise when you get to know Suzanne – there’s a whole lot of delicious things going on underneath.”

Fred Azouz, Azouz Media Marketing: ”Ooga-chaka, ooga-chaka.” (Hm. Think we’d best leave that one alone.)

OJ journalist Bruce Parkinson: “I watched Nina and Suzanne build Open Jaw, with its own personality, really reflecting the industry. They’ve done a wonderful job to build a small company. But I must admit I’m slightly jealous of Suzanne and her current status!”

And from her partner and pal Nina: “We started this before agents were on the web. We knocked on doors to launch this thing called a website, and pretty much everyone told us to pack it in and get a job because travel agents weren’t on the internet. Tonight is bittersweet, because we shared ideas every day, we’d laugh and be stupid. And now it’s weird but exciting.”

As Suzanne added, “Nina and I are like an old married couple, 20-odd years and we still love each other and have been through good, rough, and crazy times.”

They were brave souls in a brave new world: starting Open Jaw just two months before 9/11. But as Suzanne told me, “That changed the industry and the news. People who said agents would never use the internet now had to know what was happening every day and couldn’t wait for the print publications to come out next week.”

Suzanne also recalled the arrival of the famous pink couch, purchased from a local used-furniture store. “It wouldn’t fit through the door of our office so it sat in the hallway outside for the longest time. The people at the store wouldn’t take it back – thank goodness – so we ended up taking the door off to get it inside. And now it’s become a signature part of Open Jaw.”

And no adieu to Suzanne would be complete without mentioning all the hard work she and Nina put into WinterBoob each year, over 12 years raising almost a half-million dollars for breast cancer research.

So…any bad memories? “The breast cancer calendar. We thought we had to be nude so prepared for that and it turned out we were the only nudies! What a bloody nightmare!”

Thank you Suzanne for the fun and fellowship you’ve provided your colleagues, advertisers, supporters and readers over the years. You’ll be missed!





Comments

Alexander Handa - February 13, 2017 @ 14:02
I will miss your smile and our chats. Here's wishing you health and happiness on your new journey! Adios!

George Papamoros - February 6, 2017 @ 10:02
How time passes by Suzanne we have know each other since your days at KLM
you were great then & great you will always be Have a great time & enjoy your retirement.

Brad Ford - February 3, 2017 @ 10:02
Congratulations, Suzanne. Thank you for your generous spirit, wonderful humor and kind support. You make us all better humans. Enjoy life!

Terry Coles - February 2, 2017 @ 23:02
Suzanne! Say it ain't so. You were always so much fun when I saw you. Enjoy retirement.
Terry Coles of the Travel Brothers
T.P.I.

Lynda Sinclair - February 2, 2017 @ 19:02
I still remember the day you both arrived at GIANTS and John Kennedy and I met with you. It was a puzzling meeting but we both thought you might be on to something, YOU sure were. thanks for all the Pink you brought to our lives. enjoy your new roles ladies, Lynda

Ben Ayow - February 2, 2017 @ 12:02
The Industry will miss your smile and enthusiasm.
At Royal Scenic, we are just beginning a pleasant journey with you. Happy retirement and remember your many fans.

Bruce Parkinson - February 2, 2017 @ 11:02
Very nice tribute Martha. Miss you Suzanne!

TAMMY LEM - February 2, 2017 @ 10:02
Hi Suzanne, Wish you all the best! Enjoy your retirement!!

Diane Slawych - February 2, 2017 @ 10:02
Suzanne,
what a surprise to hear you're moving on. I wish you all the best and will be the first in line to buy a ticket when you give your first piano recital! Please let me know when that will be!
All the best,
Diane

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