Within the Family
Recalling a Member of the CCT Family
When I was younger, the phrase “untimely death” always struck me as off-kilter. Are not all deaths untimely, I thought? Wouldn’t everyone want to wake up to another remarkable sunrise, listen to a favorite piece of music one more time or celebrate another family milestone?
As I grew older, I realized that as sad as it seems and as painful as the loss might be in the moment, some deaths are timely. My mother lived to be 99, but by the end she had outlived all her friends, was in constant pain and could no longer get out of bed and to her wheelchair without assistance. She couldn’t even read the pages of her son’s magazine, and had reached the point where every night she prayed for God to take her. When I got the call that she had died, I was saddened, of course, but somehow relieved that she was at peace.
In August I read of a colleague/mentor who at 90 had to be moved to a nursing home by his loving wife, having been robbed by Alzheimer’s of any memory of the myriad books he edited/ published or the countless lives he touched. I can only wonder about the so-called quality of his life at this stage.
The passing of Jean-Claude Suarès on July 30, after a brief illness at 71, was a most untimely death. JC, as everyone called him, was the design consultant for this magazine for nearly two decades. More than that, he was a force of nature, a man who changed the air pressure in a room upon entering. “What have you got?” he would ask when I’d call to discuss the cover of an upcoming issue, but whether I had something good for him to work with or not, he invariably came up with a strong cover and continually “tweaked” it until it was just what he envisioned.
Suarès was a designer and illustrator who seemed to know everyone in the publishing world, and worked everywhere. He was the first art director of The New York Times’ Op-Ed page, bringing illustrations to the editorial pages of The Gray Lady, and his work “helped guide the paper into a new visual era and influenced other newspapers and magazines,” according to his Times obituary. He was the design director for New York Magazine, founder and creative director of 7 Days and POZ magazines, and oversaw redesigns for Variety, Publisher’s Weekly, Broadcasting & Cable and Military History. His drawings appeared on the covers of The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, and he designed countless illustrated books, including many about cats and dogs. He worked with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Doubleday, designing Michael Jackson’s autobiography, Moonwalk, and later writing (with J. Spencer Beck) Uncommon Grace: Reminiscences and Photographs of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
Suarès was introduced to this magazine, according to former editor Jamie Katz ’72, ’80 Business, after photographer Arnold Browne ’78 convinced Katz that it was time to bring in a pro to give CCT a better look. Another photographer, Leslie Jean-Bart ’76, ’77J, recommended Suarès, and his first cover for CCT appeared in Winter 1992–93 and marked the 10th anniversary of coeducation at the College. Suarès became CCT’s design consultant with the Winter 1994–95 issue and, working with our art director, Gates Sisters Studio, had been responsible for the look and design of the magazine ever since.
Suarès’ sudden death came as a shock; at the time, he already was working on several of the stories that appear in this issue. The CCT family extends its condolences to Nina Duran, his wife of 33 years, and to all who were affected by his passing. We hope he is riding one of his beloved polo ponies right now in a better place, and thinking about his next design project.