Memorial service to be held for Suzy Kellett, former Director of IFO

Suzy Kellett
Suzy Kellett

The Chicago film community has lost a significant leader who has forever made an imprint in our hearts and in the history of filmmaking in Chicago. Suzy Kellett, former Director of the Illinois Film Office for 12 years, died suddenly from heart complications at her home in Seattle, on December 22, 2022.

A Chicago memorial service is planned for Sunday, July 16.

Rising through the ranks, Suzy Kellett was promoted to Director of the Illinois Film Office in 1982 for a double run under governors Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, becoming one of the most successful film office directors in North America. She was at the helm through what was to become the “fabulous 80s,” having a significant role in getting Chicago to the top of the list of filming locations.

She was a brilliant, charming, authoritative leader, and steadfast voice of the Chicago film community. Her midwestern charm and creative talent for marketing was a winning combination. (Who doesn’t have a FILM hat or t-shirt?)

Suzy accomplished all of this while playing an even more significant role as a single parent raising quadruplets. Her two girls, Gwen and Abby, and two boys, Lucas and Tyler, were 7 years old when she took office.

“I worked for Suzy for 7 years at the IFO before I went on to head the Chicago Film Office,” said Rich Moskal. “I can tell you that Suzy was loved and admired by studio execs, producers, directors, grips, grunts and gaffers, and fellow film commissioners everywhere. She was a powerhouse with a big big heart.”

I can say first hand that Suzy’s door was always open to those, like myself, who were starting out in the business and in much need of guidance. For those of us who knew Suzy and were fortunate enough to be touched by her kindness, radiant smile and gentle spirit, please join the gathering for a Celebration of Life to be held at 1pm Sunday, July 16 at the Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL.

We thank you Suzy!

Suzy Kellett obituary:

Susanne (Suzy) Boylston Kellett, 78, of Seattle, Washington died suddenly of heart complications on Thursday, December 22, 2022. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend to all whom she touched with her generosity, kindness, and love.  

Suzy was the oldest of four siblings, born in Evanston, Illinois on October 21, 1944, to Patricia and John Boylston. She grew up outside of Chicago where she attended New Trier High School. She received a BA from the University of Denver and fell in love with mountains and skiing. Shortly thereafter she moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, where she met her future husband Richard (Dick) Kellett, whom she subsequently married. Thereafter, Suzy taught elementary school in southern Idaho. 

On August 28, 1975, Suzy gave birth to a set of quadruplets. Six weeks premature, Lucas, Gwen, Abby, and Tyler made headlines across the country. In 1976, Suzy and Dick separated, and Suzy and the quads moved into her parents’ home in Northfield, Illinois. Over the following years, Patty and John gave Suzy immeasurable help in raising her young children. 

In Chicago, Suzy launched her long career in both print and film media. She started as a photographic editor for People and Time magazines, was then hired as a location scout for the Illinois State Film Office, and thereafter was promoted to Director. She fostered deep relationships with numerous Hollywood film studios and worked closely on movies such as Risky Business, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Untouchables. Suzy became one of the most successful film office directors in North America, and received numerous awards for her work, including, significantly, the 1991 Women in Film/Chicago Achievement Award. 

In 1994, with her children in college, Suzy moved to Seattle, where she became the Director of the Washington State Film Office, from which she retired in 2008.  

Passionate about community service, over the years Suzy volunteered for the Seattle Evergreen Rotary Club, the International Rescue Committee, and Life Stitches Uganda. She started her own business, Suzy’s Concierge Service, which she ran until her death. 

Suzy loved to garden, read, walk around Green Lake with her friends, and travel. She was hilariously funny and loving to all. She is deeply missed by her family and friends. 

Suzy is survived by her four children and five grandchildren, Maya, Mason, Brooks, Quinn, and Tessa. She is also survived by her siblings Greg Boylston, Deborah Clothier and Mike Boylston, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents Patricia and John Boylston. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mary’s Place (which provides safe shelter to homeless women and children), PO Box 1711, Seattle WA 98111.

Wielding decades of Film & TV production experience, Barbara Roche is the editor/publisher of Reel Chicago and Reel 360

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