Posted by: COSI | July 2, 2009

Gosh, it hurts.

I’m losing too many friends unexpectedly way before their time. First former COSI President Roy Shafer suddenly at the age of 54 as I interviewed at COSI, now Columbus Zoo President Jeff Swanagan. jeff-swanagan

Dottie and I had just been with Jeff and his wonderful wife Suzie a bit over a week ago. They were talking about their new home, the wedding coming up this week of their son, and Jeff and I were plotting our next joint effort between COSI and the Columbus Zoo.

And then Jeff was gone—a heart attack they presume after cutting his grass on Sunday. Just 51 years young. I’m hurting at the loss—but I can’t begin to imagine how much Jeff’s wife Suzie is hurting. She tried to articulate it to me at Jeff’s memorial but the pain was more than words could express. I could feel it, though, as we hugged in mutual disbelief.

Columbus has lost a great community leader in Jeff who was enthusiastic and energetic and driving one of our key assets in this community to the next level of its distinguished service. I lost a colleague who was fast becoming a personal as well as professional friend.

Typical of Jeff, when he and I talked about how this city isn’t leveraging well enough all the national #1 rankings its assets are earning, he said let’s just do it ourselves. So shortly thereafter Jack Hannah shows up here for a photo appearance which has become the double #1 billboard that Jeff at the Zoo and us at COSI have put up with our own money—you might have seen the one on 315 as you sit in the extended 315 traffic;-)

Billboard

Jeff was like that—got an idea, go for it, make it happen. It would have been tremendous fun to have the years we planned ahead for both of us working together leveraging the Zoo and COSI growing partnership.

We’ve lost a great one. Suzie and their family have lost a loving and proud husband and father. I’ve lost a friend and colleague. It’ll hurt for a long time.

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