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A FRIEND TO ALL

Blaisdell is leaving her job with the city after Thursday's retirement party
by: Jim Hart From her front-counter position, Suzi Blaisdell assists Sandy resident Sally Rice, who often volunteers at the Sandy Community Center. Blaisdell says her “job would be twice as hard” if she didn’t have volunteers’ help.

Suzi Blaisdell began working as a temporary employee for the city of Sandy when she was 29. Today, 29 years later, she is retiring from her key role in the Sandy Community Center.

At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, July 28, the city will throw a party in the Community Center and serve a lunch to all who will attend to wish Blaisdell smooth sailing through retirement.

Most often, Blaisdell is the first person anyone sees when they walk through the Community Center's front door.

And that is where she finds the most enjoyment in her work.

'I love the people who come in, especially the seniors,' she said. 'They're what kept me in this job.

'The most important thing I do is to make sure our senior population gets the services they need so they can stay in their homes as long as possible.'

While she often serves as receptionist, her job title is administrative secretary. She supports all of her coworkers and the volunteers. Without the volunteers, she says, her job would be twice as hard.

Because she supports all of her coworkers, she can do every job in the center, except one - cooking.

'I wear a lot of hats,' she said, 'but I don't cook. My husband (Sandy Fire Capt. Art Blaisdell) is the cook in our family.'

Blaisdell is friend to a lot of people in Sandy. She arrived in Sandy in 1964, when she was 11, and worked behind the soda fountain at Sandy Rexall Drug while she was in high school. Her father, George Morgan, had an insurance agency in town for years. She's been here so long and was involved in so many activities that she's considered a native.

By many scales she has lived the American dream: She met and married her high-school sweetheart; bought a house just a few blocks from her office; and, until retirement, has been serving those people who helped her grow and mature.

Many of the seniors are sad to see Blaisdell retire. They enjoy their interaction with her whenever they visit the center. Blaisdell's boss says that interaction is critical in some people's lives.

'For some of our folks, it could be one of the few conversations they have each day,' said Community Services Director Nancy Enabnit. '(Blaisdell) always takes time to engage people (in conversation), find out how they're doing, what they're doing, and she shows a very caring attitude. Everybody likes to be cared for. (A caring attitude) is a standard that (center staff) all strive to achieve, and she does a very good job.'

But working for the city hasn't been Blaisdell's only career. She developed an interest in art at Sandy High School and took additional classes in the late 1990s. In 2002, she turned professional as a watercolorist. She's also a professional photographer. Even though she sells some photos and lots of photo greeting cards, she prefers to use photography to support her art.

Her creative work can be seen at the First Saturday Market in Sandy, and she says she'll keep entering juried shows and seeking galleries to display her work.

'I'll be pursuing more opportunities,' she said. 'I always enter my watercolor association's (juried) shows each year. I don't always get selected (because only one of five is selected from those entered).'

Enabnit said she has mixed feelings about Blaisdell leaving the center.

'This is like when your kid goes off to college,' she said, 'You're sad to see them go, but what a great reason to go. In a way, you're really happy. A lot of people are going to miss her, but it's exhilarating to know she gets to do things she's looking forward to doing.'

For a few years, Blaisdell and Bernice Powell have been job-sharing - each working part-time. By Friday, when Blaisdell is sharing time with her family or at home painting, Powell will be on full-time at the center - filling some pretty big shoes.