Colleagues Recall Victim of Elevator Accident

At the beginning of the year, Suzanne Hart, the 41-year-old advertising executive crushed to death in an office building elevator last week, was assigned to oversee the redesign of her company’s internal Web site. It was a project that could easily have taken seven or eight months.

David Sable, the chief executive, gave her eight weeks.

At a memorial service on Monday attended by hundreds of colleagues from the agency, Y&R, a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, Mr. Sable described how Ms. Hart had managed him as the project approached the finish line.

“Suzanne came to show me the designs,” he said. “I wasn’t happy.”

But only at the beginning of her presentation, he said. And that was exactly her strategy: She was working her way through everything her team had considered and discarded as not quite right.

“I was managed like the fish on the hook,” he said. “The last version was exactly what I wanted.”

Since last week, Ms. Hart’s photograph has been on the home page of the site, which Young & Rubicam uses as a kind of companywide message board. It has become all the more important since the accident in the elevator, because company officials said the building at 285 Madison Avenue remains closed. Company employees are working from other places and staying connected by computer. The memorial was held in an office building about a block from 285 Madison.

The elevator had undergone electrical maintenance work hours before it malfunctioned, the City Buildings Department said. Ms. Hart, on her way to her office, had walked through the lobby of the building and was stepping into the elevator when it shot toward the second floor.

Its doors remained open, and Ms. Hart, the agency’s director of new business and content, was trapped between the first and second floors. She was declared dead at the scene.

At the memorial service, her father, Alex W. Hart, who is known as Pete, described the call from a police detective in New York. Mr. Hart said he had just arrived home in Naples, Fla., after a redeye flight, and had been looking forward to a nap. “It was like a scene from one of those dramas on television,” he said.

“This is every father’s worst nightmare,” he said. “You hear it so often. You never expect to have to deal with it yourself.”

He said he “threw some clothes into a suitcase” and rushed to the airport for another flight, this time to New York, “to do what little we could do.”

He said he had thought about grabbing a suit, and about what his daughter would have said about taking the time to grab a suit.

“She would give me that look,” he said. He imagined her reaction as, “Dad, that’s ridiculous.”

He traced the arc of her life, from the premature baby who spent her first 14 days in an incubator — “The nurses would tell me what a fighter she was, that she’d make it,” he said — to the spunky 8-year-old who complained that her three brothers dominated the remote control for the television. The family changed the rules to let her have a hand in what was on, and he remembered her “glee with that remote.”

He said there were times when she chose “maybe not something she liked,” but a program “she knew the boys wouldn’t like.”

He also remembered her as the 14-year-old who proved to be “the glue” that held the family together as he and her mother, Fyanne, divorced. Her brother Alex Paul Hart said she took a year off from college to care for Mrs. Hart, who was dying of breast cancer. Alex Paul Hart said his sister showed “remarkable maturity, remarkable poise,” during their mother’s illness. “Suzanne really kept the family together,” he said.

Christian Dickson, her boyfriend, quoted e-mails from friends. One said, “Suzanne always put a happy face on, no matter what the situation.” Another called her “a ray of sunshine.”

Mr. Dickson said they met five and a half years ago, in May 2006. They went out a few times but stopped seeing each other for a while. “I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I’d really like to go to a movie with her.’ At that moment, my phone rang. It was Suzanne.”

They moved to Brooklyn about a year ago and were “homebodies” who recorded “ ‘Saturday Night Live’ because it was on too late” and “This Week With Christiane Amanpour” on Sunday mornings “because it was on too early,” he said.

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