Suzanne Hart knew how to live her life to the fullest.
The Y&R New York director of new-business content who died in a tragic elevator accident Wednesday worked in one of the toughest jobs in adland, bringing in new business. But despite the job's pressures, she was centered, helpful and found time to indulge in her hobby -- landscaping and botany -- said colleagues.
People who knew her at Y&R, and those who worked with her at her previous stints at Merkley + Partners and EuroRSCG, remember her as someone who was the linchpin of a team, no matter what.
Lisa Fabiano, who worked with Ms. Hart at EuroRSCG, said she was a real new-business pro. "She had new business in her blood. No task was too daunting, she was always willing to stay all night to get the job done, and did so frequently." Jim Radosevic, the exec VP and global creative director at Y&R who worked with Ms. Hart, said the exec's role in the agency was one of the most high-pressure and high-stakes role in the ad business. "She had that rare ability to work across all the various disciplines in an ad agency -- from creative to strategy to production to technology." But she usually responded to stress and pressure with a smile, a laugh or maybe an eye roll, he said.
"She was one of the unique people who you would give anything to and know it would come back better than expected," said Zoe Church, a Y&R colleague.
Jane Barratt, the former president of Y&R New York, who worked with Ms. Hart at the WPP shop as well as at Euro, remembers her as the "calmest person in the world," someone who evoked a "thank God she's here" when she walked into the room.
Ms. Hart's office at Y&R was a sanctuary, filled with plants. She had a soft spot for all things green. In the summer of 2010, she took an extended vacation to study botany and landscape design at the New York Botanical Garden. Later, she landscaped the home of Dan Goodman, a new-business analyst at Y&R who counts her as a mentor and a friend. "She was as attentive to my project as she would be for anything she would do for Y&R. And now my family has a beautifully landscaped house that will be a lasting memory of her and her passion for landscape design," said Mr. Goodman.
Ms. Hart also proudly set up Y&R's global intranet and website, said Lara Griggs, a senior VP at the agency. "But I think her proudest accomplishment was the love and respect she garnered from people."
"Her success didn't come in wins or losses; it came in her ability to inspire us all," said Ms. Church.
In an email to staff, David Sable echoed the sentiments. "Suzanne was, in fact, a member of my team and someone I worked closely with, truly respected and, quite simply, adored," he wrote. "We will ... all have a chance to memorialize her as she deserves."
The many colleagues who wanted to send their thoughts on Ms. Hart -- who friends fondly called "Zanny" -- remember her as being incredibly balanced, cheerful and a joy to be around.
"We shouldn't focus on the fact that she died," said Ms. Barratt. "Focus on the fact that she lived, and lived very well."