In the Past Few Months, our industry has seen the loss of three wonderful people to cancer.
David Riddell, vice president, certificatefor Marriott Individual Incentives, was always the friendly one in the room — charming, engaging, and witty. The last time I saw him, we were at a cocktail party last winter at the SITE International Conference in Toronto, where he stood laughing at everyone's jokes with that deep, heartfelt laugh that always made you feel that you were funny.
When David missed a SITE meeting because of his illness, there was something missing. He cared deeply about that organization, for which he served as president in 1997. As he courageously battled his cancer for years, he might not have realized how every member of SITE — really, everyone in the industry — was secretly part of his fight. And we're all feeling his loss.
Pat Fisch, president of Washington, D.C. — based International Destinations Inc. and a former hotel executive, was always sharing her comments about this magazine — and her connections in the industry — with me and my colleagues at The Meetings Group. Betsy Bair, our editorial director, describes her perfectly: “She had guts and determination and terrific business sense, but her considerable Southern charms made it easy to forget she was so good at what she did. She was one of the best networkers I've ever known.”
Most of her industry friends didn't even know that Pat had cancer until recently, and the same is true for Chris Pentz, CMP, president, Pentz Group Communications. This incredibly savvy lady had worked as a meeting planner for several pharmaceutical companies, including SmithKline, Centocor, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, before she created her own meeting-planning company in the 1990s. Chris was a speaker at the 2005 Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum, put on by our sister magazine, and she was scheduled to speak at the March 2006 conference when she became too ill to take part. Medical Meetings' Editor Tamar Hosansky remembers her as being one of the first meeting planners she ever interviewed: “I was impressed not only with her expertise and colorful quotes, but by her warmth, which meant a lot to me as a newbie.”
We will truly miss these three industry friends — all of whom left us long before their time. Our deepest sympathies go out to their families, friends, and colleagues.
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