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New Clevelanders – Sue Farrell Interview

Sue Farrell grew up in Oakmont, Pennsylvania which is about 16 miles up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. This was her home until she left to attend college in Michigan.

The Farrell family’s move to Cleveland represented their ninth move! They have lived in Michigan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Indiana (where their 3 children were born), Philadelphia (again), Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Virginia, Denver, Colorado, and THEN…. on to Cleveland. The Farrell’s came to Cleveland in 2007 after Sue’s husband Mike was recruited for a position at University Hospitals

As Sue considered relocating in Cleveland, she was essentially neutral about the move. She had been to Cleveland 30 years earlier when her sister got married in Shaker Heights. She really did not know a lot about the city, but like many people, had heard the derogatory phrase “Mistake on the Lake” applied to Cleveland.

University Hospitals arranged to have a company called Executive Arrangements provide the family with a good overview of the area. This company helps “sell” Cleveland to prospective new residents. Sue described a day she spent (before the move) being driven around the city’s downtown and concentration on the eastern suburbs because of their proximity to University Hospitals. One of the places she was taken to by Executive Arrangements, was Playhouse Square, where she walked through the elegant and historic theatre complex.

Following this very favorable experience, the Farrell’s weighed other factors that had an impact on a move to Cleveland. These included their fondness for the Midwest and its values, and closer proximity to their respective families (Mike is from Toledo, OH and Sue from Pittsburgh, PA).

Transition from a new-comer to an active participant in the greater Cleveland community came relatively easy to Sue. About 6 weeks after the family arrived, Executive Arrangements sponsored a tea for Sue to acquaint her with people in the community. At the tea, Sue was approached by someone who told her about the New Clevelanders organization which she subsequently joined. Sue also began volunteering at University Hospitals because of her husband’s association with the hospital.

Reflecting back on her move, Sue indicated that she remains disappointed by the “bad rap” that Cleveland gets. She feels this is sometimes substantiated by the attitude of some native or long time Clevelanders.

Sue regards Cleveland as a very accessible city, stating it is much easier getting to various venues here than it had been for her in other cities. She and her husband enjoy the Midwest values of this area.

According to Sue, the greater Cleveland area has so much to offer: the arts, theatres, nationally recognized sports teams, world class museums, etc. She has been impressed by the quality of the shows, exhibitions and performances that come through Cleveland.

Sue and her husband, Mike read an article in Cleveland Magazine which depicted some of the greatest homes in this area. The article made mention of Dan Ruminski. They did some research to find out more about what he was doing to promote Cleveland. Currently, Sue is a co-chair of the New Clevelanders Luncheon and Program committee and as a result of reading that article, Sue and her co-chair, Jane Plank, went to meet Dan and asked him to present a talk at a future New Clevelanders luncheon.

In November of 2009, Dan did a presentation on the White Family of Cleveland, known for White Sewing Machine and White Motors fame, for 48 women of the organization. It is this author’s opinion that the people who attended this talk now know more about the historical significance of Cleveland in the late 19th –early 20th century than many Cleveland “natives”.

Because of Sue’s participation in the New Clevelanders and their monthly “excursions”, she has been literally “all over” Cleveland. When she meets new people they always ask her how she knows so much about this city.

Sue believes that Cleveland is a wonderful place to live. The family lives in Chagrin Falls. She said she wishes their children had been able to grow up in an area like Chagrin Falls. Sue talked about how wonderful the people are in this whole greater Cleveland area.

Sue was fortunate to have a very smooth transition into her new hometown. This is yet another example of a person who has been transplanted to this area and has found a way to discover the “jewels” of a city that has been taken for granted for too long. Many of us locals should use the same type of approach to discovering Cleveland, as we do when we visit a city we’ve never been to before—we might be very surprised at what we find!

– Written by: Roberta Malbin Levenson

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