Remembering Suzanne Austell Martin, PAC conservationist

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

Suzanne was one of the guests, along with Bonnie Wood from Tryon. Suzanne and her husband John had just moved to Hume, and I talked with them about what it was like to live there in Northern Virginia. When we realized we had the Tryon/Landrum connection, Suzanne initiated a lively discourse about how much Polk County and Landrum had changed since I&squo;d left in 1984 and how she&squo;d worked with a local land trust to help protect the region&squo;s natural resource areas. This turned out to be foreshadowing for me, because within a year I became the executive director of The Pacolet Area Conservancy.

Once I was resettled in Tryon, I heard a great deal about the work&bsp; Suzanne had done in the community. Not only did she help conserve our natural resources through her work with PAC, but she also saved historic buildings and is attributed with helping preserve the character and buildings in downtown Landrum. Suzanne was a horse gal, and I discovered that she traveled up from Spartanburg for our area&squo;s fox hunting, horse shows, and the steeplechase.

When the news of Suzanne&squo;s passing became public, I did some digging in the old PAC files. I knew that she had been one of the original PAC board members, along with others such as Sam White, Allen Slater, Hank Welch, Dave Parkinson, George Stinson, Thomas Troup, Ernst Mahler, Norm Wilder, Horace Smith, and Tom Moore. For more than a decade, Suzanne helped organize and propel PAC into a thriving existence. She served in several capacities for the organization: secretary, president, and major fundraiser. Apparently, you simply couldn&squo;t say &dquo;no&dquo; to Suzanne&squo;s passion and charm. She helped raise significant amounts for the organization at a time when it was just beginning to grow.

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According to PAC supporter and former board member Nan Holden, &dquo;Suzanne really put the conservancy on the map. We couldn&squo;t have done it without her.&dquo; Not all of us can leave a beautiful legacy which lives on in the embodiment of rivers and streams, mountains, forests, and greenspace; but Suzanne Martin certainly did.

A PAC Support Garden fund has been set up in memory of Suzanne Austell Martin. Those wishing to give gifts to PAC in memory of founder Suzanne Martin are asked to indicate their wishes on donations sent for that purpose to The Pacolet Area Conservancy, 850 N. Trade Street, Tryon, N.C. 28782.