Remembering Susan

On July 9, 2015, after batting cancer for a year and a half, Susan Horodyska peacefully passed away.Susan was part of our team for seven years and her role in client services meant that she was often the first person you encountered when you visited, phoned or emailed the Centre. She had a gentle and caring way of dealing with everyone she met. Today we’re sharing our favourite memories of her.

“She was a very unique spirit who sincerely cared about those in her life and she has been and will be missed. I have Iris growing in Stacey’s garden that came from Susan and Laurie’s back yard. I remember her bringing in bags of perennials to share with us. She showed us so much strength during her time with us – her support and caring for Laurie as he went through cancer, the death of her Mother and support to her father, and the strength of body and soul with her own journey the past several months! I loved our “heart project” and seeing her expressions when she was trying to figure out which heart belonged to who. She will be missed.”
– Pat Sargeant

“I want to say that my favourite memories of Susan include our shared love for the colour orange and how she loved my plaid pants. I was also moved by how excited she was to meet my mom – in the few minutes that they spent together, Susan’s way and words made my mom feel really special – I will always appreciate that.”
– Nancy Brommell

I was always so impressed with Susan’s positivity. She was always smiling and kind. She kept up her positive and optimistic spirit even during the hardest times of life, including Laurie’s battle with cancer, and then her own. Her optimism really speaks to her high character, as I think it is easy to be smiling when things are going well, but if you can still smile during the toughest times of your life, you are truly a very strong, special person.

The only time I noticed her smile the least was when she was trying to pass that math course in university! It was a huge accomplishment to earn her degree later in life. She had such artistic talent, and I am so glad she went to Toronto to be present at the art gallery where her award winning photos were displayed.

Even though we both shared the same tight hamstring issues, we both loved yoga. We talked about going to a Yoga retreat in India to immerse ourselves in the practice, and perhaps improve our hamstring flexibility.

Cindy and I had the opportunity to spend extra time working with Susan on the Health and Wellness Committee. Her desire for a healthy workplace, thoughtful input, and positive attitude will be missed.
– Heather Stephens

I have so many lovely memories of our Susan. I always watched in awe as she took notes at our weekly client services meetings. Not surprisingly, she never wrote on the lines but rather had little snippets scrawled all over the page that made complete sense to her.

She told me once that horodyski translated to garden. She always thought that Susan Garden had a nice ring to it and was certainly easier to spell so was considering making a change… Then there was the taxidermied fish she found in her aunt’s basement. Somehow she thought Morris should have it and I had a heck of time talking her out of giving it to him. The fact that it was covered in cob webs and the stuffing was coming out finally convinced her, much to my relief.

Perhaps most of all, I will remember Susan talking about her art in a radio interview. She was so articulate and passionate; it was her calling.
– Alison Kirkland

I like the fact that we are putting down a few of our remembrances of Susan as part of our healing process.  I have many happy thoughts about our relationship. I think her going back to university to get her Fine Arts degree was absolutely inspirational.  I remember how articulate she was as she described to me her passion for all the things she was studying (well, maybe not the Math) – but, her photography – for example.  And she could apply that passion to real life. I shared with her once that I was a “pack rat” particularly when it came to sentimental things like pieces of old furniture that didn’t hold a lot of value as antiques but meant a great deal sentimentally. She had a great suggestion that I have shared with others many times since – she said “Take a picture of it – and then let it go”. How wise.  And her impact certainly went beyond just her colleagues. My husband often stopped by the office since he worked close by and he remembers her warm and smiley greeting whenever he stopped in and when he saw her at our company events.

I could write a lot of happy stories and if compiled would help to show how she helped me, inspired me, and taught me. I miss her.  Her memory will continue to live strong in my mind.
– Cindy Ruth

I was thinking about how Susan always knew people’s faces and names, often after they had only been to the Centre once, and she would welcome them by name when they arrived. She also remembered their ideas or whatever information they had shared previously.

You are right about the orange Nancy. I remember searching out extra orange pens to be sure she always had one!

She and I took that photography class together and her “homework” pictures were always art, not just photographs
– Cathie Clement

As our CEO Sandra Altner noted, “We spend a goodly number of our waking hours at work, and so work becomes a kind of family. We have seen how important that family is in the way we support and care about each other. No better example of this is what happened over the past two years with our Susan. Even though we didn’t see her every day, the WECM team did everything they could to maintain the relationship we had with her. I can only imagine how much that meant to Susan.”

At our Employee Retreat on July 15, we lit a candle so that Susan would have a presence at our celebration. We had, on our day of appreciation, a moment of silence to reflect on all that Susan did for this organization and what she meant to each of us. She is missed.

If you knew Susan please feel free to add your memories in the comment section below.