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Suzanne Hall Christian: financial planner, traveler, educator

Financial planner, traveler, educator, grandmother, volunteer

Suzanne Hall Christian died surrounded by loved ones on May 5, of complications related to a rare and longstanding neuroendocrine cancer. 

Born in Hollywood, California to Gertrude and Pierson Hall, Suzanne was raised in Santa Monica when the now decidedly urban locale was primarily fields and farms. She took great pride in having grown a victory garden with her mother, took long walks with her dog in the fields that are now Century City, and developed a great love of beach volleyball.

She graduated from Beverly Hills High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA, where she majored in theater arts and education. She was a lifelong Bruin and John Wooden fan.

After graduating from college, she became a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and taught until she had the first of her four daughters. Her father had a citrus grove near what is now Chaparral Elementary School, and her family moved to Claremont in 1968.

She was very active in the lives of her children and their education within the Claremont school system. She planned and executed trips so that her family was able to visit all 50 states on a very limited budget. She was well known for her excellent cooking and was proud to have won an award for her baked chicken recipe.

In 1974, she returned to the classroom, teaching English at Claremont High School, where she eventually served as chair of the English department. 

In 1978, Ms. Christian decided to switch careers entirely and became a certified financial planner, earning her master’s degree at the University of Redlands and her CFP certification from USC. This was a role she loved, and she practiced for almost 45 years in her office on Yale Avenue in the Village. 

She spoke often of financial planning as a great privilege—she treasured the opportunity to connect with and help her clients work toward financial security. She received many awards within her industry, including “businesswoman of the year” and being mentioned in Who’s Who in Business and Finance in America. This work filled her life until she began to transition away from it last summer, at the age of 84.

One of her favorite projects was the cable television program she hosted, Money Talks, in which she interviewed people across all different professions about ways to use money to expand and grow their industry. She especially enjoyed talking with artists about how best to support their work.

Ms. Christian was devoted to the Claremont community in every way. She was very proud to have founded a scholarship for Claremont High School students that emphasized continued learning, civic responsibility and the desire to “pay it forward.”

In addition, she served on the boards of multiple organizations, including the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Scripps College’s Garrison Theater, Casa Colina Hospital and the YWCA. Classical music was a great love of hers, and she was a longtime affiliate of the Foothill Philharmonic. She was also an active member of Claremont Rotary for more than 30 years.

Travel was another great love of hers. She had many memorable adventures with friends and family to the far reaches of the world. She hiked Machu Picchu, climbed the Egyptian pyramids, fly fished in places such as Alaska, Argentina and Chile, sailed aboard the Starclipper through the South Pacific and later the Mediterranean, and visited China three times.

Her favorite travel story was of the overwhelming love for our country that she felt upon landing at Dulles Airport after being delayed for a week in Milan after the 9/11 attacks. She never lost her childhood love for the ocean, and spent many happy hours walking the beaches of Laguna and Hawaii.

“To know Suzanne was to know her kindness, her inquisitiveness,  her wonderful sense of humor, and above all, her generosity to all those she came in contact with,” her family shared.

Ms. Christian is survived by her beloved partner of almost 25 years, Jim Hardy; her four daughters, Colleen Christian (Courtland Schmidt), Carolyn Christian, Claudia Christian (Darryl Perry) and Cynthia Christian (Tim Geary); as well as five grandchildren, Emma, Claire and Isabel Schmidt, and Fiona and Liam Geary.

She also leaves behind her professional family, including Susie Abundiz-Obregon, Jesse Hernandez, Risa Amato and Todd Pam. 

She was preceded in death by her ex-husband, Otto B. Christian, and her older sister, Mary Ellen Thomas.

Her family would like to thank the staff at the Claremont Manor Lodge and Season’s Hospice for their many kindnesses and compassionate care over these past months, with special gratitude for the Covid-appropriate birthday celebration held just a week before her death.

A memorial service in her memory is being planned and will be announced in a future edition of the COURIER.

Donations may be made in Ms. Christian’s name to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org; or to the Claremont Educational Foundation at http://www.supportcef.com/donate, or by check with “The Suzanne H. Christian scholarship” in the memo line, mailed to 112 Harvard Ave., Box 191, Claremont, CA 91711.

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