John Charles "Jack" Suesse, 64, husband, father, theatrical engineer, and friend, died on Friday, August 17, 2007 in Spartanburg, SC following a brief illness.
For more than 30 years, Jack was associated with J. R. Clancy, Inc., the oldest theatrical rigging company in the United States, serving as President from 1986-2005. He then formed his own consulting firm, J. Suesse & Associates, and also served as a Special Projects Advisor to Stage Technologies in London and Las Vegas. He was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and was selected as a Fellow of the United States Institute for Technical Theater in 1993.
Jack worked on theatrical projects of all sizes across the world including the Peace Center in Greenville, SC, the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Chicago Opera House, and the United States Naval Academy. He had a long-standing concern for safety and served on the Entertainment Technician Certification Program committee that developed rigging safety standards. One of Jack's favorite trade show commitments was serving on the "Stump the Rigger" panel, a lively forum of technical professionals seeking answers to the ever-increasing complexities and sophistication of theatrical productions. He loved his work, and is remembered as a mentor by many in this tight-knit industry.
Colleagues said, "We are lucky to meet some wonderful people in our industry, but Jack stands out uniquely. A wily guide in the 'dangling stuff' business who informed us with his wit and wisdom, Jack did business with dignity and charm. He was always helpful, always deeply concerned to share his experience, and always a truly wonderful friend. He was a great man of the theatre. Mostly, he was a great human being."
Jack was born in Stark, Florida, the only child of the late Captain Ralph Andrew Suesse and Margaret Frank Suesse. Jack's father died during a rehearsal for the D-Day invasion in 1944, and Jack was raised by his mother and grandmother in Akron, Ohio. Jack began his lifelong career in technical theater in junior high school. He graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology with a degree in Technical Theater. After college, he taught at Onondaga Community College, and owned Syracuse Scenery & Stage Lighting.
When he wasn't working on huge projects, Jack loved to tinker with smaller ones. Everyone who knew him has a story about something he fixed or improved for them. Arriving for a visit anywhere, his first question was always about the "job jar," his way of asking what needed to be done. He was always happier with busy hands. In the years preceding his death, he volunteered regularly with the Tuesday crew of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. His "hands-on" approach and knowledge of home-building was due in part to his experience building his own homes, first in Parish, NY, where he lived for 27 years, and then in Tryon, NC, where he and his wife moved in 1999.
An avid sailor and boater, Jack loved the water and spent as much time as possible in the Thousand Islands along the St. Lawrence River. He was a member of the Tryon United Church of Christ.
To know Jack was to know of his deep dedication to his family. His wife and children were his top priority, and his dogs weren't far behind. In addition to his mother, Jack is survived by his wife, Gwendolyn Alice von der Osten Suesse, his daughter, Jennifer Michelle Suesse, of Arlington, MA, and his son, Ned Andrew Suesse, of Colorado Springs, CO.
There will be a Celebration Service commemorating Jack's life on Friday afternoon, August 24, at 3 P.M. at the Tryon United Church of Christ, on Melrose Avenue in Tryon, NC. Interment will be private.
In recognition of his love for helping others, memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity, Inc, P.O. Box 626, Tryon, NC. 28782.
McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon, NC is in charge of arrangements.