Suzette Saxberg Schultz passed away in Houston Methodist Hospital on November 30, 2020. Born in Long Beach at the end of World War II of French and Finnish stock, she might have been the inspiration for the Beach Boys as they sang the praises of California girls. Suzette was a professional model, a competitive figure skater, and a world traveler at a young age. She grew up to become a gifted architectural designer, an international businesswoman, an author of professional books and articles, and a devoted and loving Mom, wife, and Nana. She retired as Chairman and CEO of Interior Space Design Houston, Inc.
Suzette grew up and went to high school in Downey, CA. As a young woman, Suzette left her Los Angeles area home to attend Colorado Woman’s College in Denver. There, she met Jon, a law student, and in 1965 the two began their fifty-five years together, living and working in all four corners and the middle of the USA and raising Jeff and Marc. After ten years they found Houston and the Gulf Coast, where their roots took hold and they raised their children. Suzette graduated with honors from the University of Houston, and began her career by joining the Houston offices of ISD Incorporated, an international architecture firm specializing in building corporate spaces.
Suzette’s passion and her career were about architectural design. She gained her professional reputation through technical expertise and by producing public and office spaces for demanding clients in the Americas, Asia and Europe. In 1990 she bought the Houston office of her firm and moved it to Houston’s Chase Tower. In the downtown Houston offices, she logged her first million airline miles and designed over ten million square feet of law firms throughout the US and abroad. As an author, she literally wrote the book on designing law firms, which was published, along with multiple award-winning articles, by the American Bar Association. After ten years in Houston’s Chase Tower she moved the offices to the Strand in Galveston.
Her second passion was cooking, and her heroes were Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Every Christmas dinner at Suzette’s table was planned for months in advance. It was always a memorable feast. In recent years, she celebrated meal specialties and Christmas customs from a selected country. In addition to memories of Christmas and other holidays at her table, Suzette left a legacy of loose-leaf binders with an enormous collection of her recipes and notes, as well as contributions published in several cook books. She was a cook book editor and many other endearing things: a Cub Scout den mother, a baby sitter, an aeronautical navigator, a personal barber, a virtuoso house painter, a print maker, a pianist, a seamstress…in short, irreplaceable.
Suzette was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a Sunday school teacher for children there. Representing Trinity’s ministry, she bought, planned, cooked and served over 15,000 meals for needy diners at Galveston’s Salvation Army facility, and she and Jon developed a Foyers program which helped Trinity members respond to the stresses of Hurricane Ike. In Galveston, Suzette appeared before City Council and worked with other groups as an environmentalist promoting protection of Galveston Island’s wetlands and growth of ecotourism. She was an avid sailor, and she especially loved navigating the clear Caribbean waters of the British Virgin Islands and the Abacos, although she sailed enough from Freeport to develop a healthy respect for the Gulf between Texas and Mexico. Until recently, her driver’s license still showed her motorcycle certification.
In Houston, Suzette served as a docent at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, where she was delighted to introduce the arts to children. She also gave back to her communities by volunteer work, by her church work, and by the legacy of architectural design she created.
Her professional work was most influenced by Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and others from the Bauhaus movement. Her favorite places, where we hope to leave a part of her ashes, are certain small Caribbean islands where she sailed, a park at the Eiffel Tower, and her own meditation garden under construction at the family farm/ranch.
Suzette loved her family and her church family. Her grandchildren gave her a grand reason to get up every morning. She loved traveling, cooking, entertaining, gardening, volunteer work, and classical architecture. But most of all, she was immensely grateful for her family and the wonderful friends who provided support and love for her with their prayers, their calls and text messages and visits.
She is survived by her adoring husband of 55 years Jon S. Schultz of Houston, two sons: Jeff and his wife Anne-Marie, of Austin, TX, and Marc and his wife Kristina of Houston, TX and their two children, her grandchildren, Madison Elizabeth Schultz and Caleb Stephen Schultz, of Houston.
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