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That’s One Classy, Beautiful, and Gifted Lady

| October 4, 2011 | 0 Comments

I remember the first time I met Sue Stephens-Marty. It was well over twenty years ago when she was a co-owner of Café Del Rey Morro in Balboa Park. I was extremely impressed with her style, grace and kindness. In addition to her beauty, Sue glowed with personality. She made a huge impression on me.

Twelve years ago, with some encouragement from Chuck Fox, who was editor at that time, Sue agreed to join the writing team of the Presidio Sentinel. This past month, Fox and I reminisced about Sue during a celebration of her life at a reception at Trellisses in Mission Valley. We both commented on what a talented and gifted person Sue was. And, at 66 years of age, she had hoped to experience, give and share so much more.

Recently, Pancho (Francisco) Marty, Sue’s husband of 17 years, shared with me their time together. Pancho and Sue had known each other for 34 years. Their relationship was filled with family and friends, arts, culture, food, music, travel and comedy. The humor began the first day they met. Pancho said they met in Mexico when he was a sales manger for San Antonio Del Mar. Sue had just purchased property from his real estate office.

Pancho posed the question, “Do you like to gamble?” Sue said no, not really. He continued to ask if she would be willing to bet on an upcoming football game. If he won, she would pay for dinner. If she won, he would pay for dinner. As Pancho commented, either way, he would win. Pancho knew he would be having dinner with this “incredibly beautiful woman.” She agreed, and their lifetime relationship began.

34 years later, Pancho continues to speak of Sue’s beauty, and her gracious, kind and giving personality. He also spoke of Sue’s commitment to the community. She loved Mission Hills and the summer Concerts in the Park.

Sue Stephens enjoyed living life to the fullest.

Sue Stephens enjoyed living life to the fullest.

Pancho and Sue, sponsors of the Concerts in the Park, frequented them with friends and family. And, they had their favorite moments, which included the evening’s opportunity drawing.

Pancho reminded me that several years ago they were the winners of a pug dog, stuffed, that is. He said he surprised Sue during one of their international trips. He told her that he had invited a guest. She asked, “who?” Out of his suitcase came the pug. Sue laughed and thanked him for the unexpected guest. Pancho said the pug joined them on every trip and journey from that day forward, and had developed quite a reputation as an international traveler.

Pancho also commented on Sue’s love for adventure, which she shared in her regular monthly articles in the Presidio Sentinel. She would entwine her worldly travels with her food column. Every month I looked forward to reading her column and attempting some of the dishes that she presented.

Anyone who knew Sue also knows she excelled at every thing she did. She was an accomplished writer and author, and an incredible jewelry designer. Sue founded Venezia Bella, an online retail jewelry website. Her jewelry designs were known and recognized throughout the world.

She was also the first woman to chair the San Diego Convention & Visitor Bureau’s (CONVIS) board of directors. Sue served on the San Diego Film Commission, the Hotel Sales Management Association and was president of the Food and Beverage Association. She was on the board of the Holiday Bowl, and was on the executive board of the San Diego Festival of the Arts.

Sue also owned Layfa, a consulting firm that marketed food and beverage products. Layfa, Pancho shared with me, means “beautiful flower,” a name befitting of Sue’s business venture. She was also a member of the public relations staff at the San Diego Zoo and worked for Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) in food and hospitality.

The last time I communicated with Sue, she was “thinking forward.” She was planning a December 2011 trunk show for her jewelry designs, and was optimistic about writing again for the Presidio Sentinel. Pancho shared the same, she was focused on her next journey and adventure, which included an October trip to Cambria, Carmel and San Francisco. Besides Venice, Italy, this Northern California trip was her favorite.

Sue often went there to “think straight” and get her life in order.

As Sue’s friend and business associate, that’s all I ever saw and experienced. She was one of the most organized, creative and visionary people I’d met. And, now there is this big gap in my life, knowing that I don’t have her to call or talk to, to rely on for secret encouragement and guidance. And, I will truly miss all the gifts, her writing, story telling, parties, dinners, conversations, kindness and friendship.

Sue, you are truly one classy, beautiful and gifted lady. Thanks for your inspiration and years of friendship.

In honor of Sue’s life, her family suggests donations to Scripps’ cancer programs, Scripps Mercy Hospital, or Scripps Health Foundation, P.O. Box 2669, San Diego, CA 92038.

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