Susie Fitzgerald, Adventure Travel Pioneer and Co-Founder of Frontiers International Travel, Passes Away

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On Thursday, August 20, following complications during heart surgery, the travel world lost one of its most influential women, Susie Fitzgerald, co-founder of Frontiers International Travel.

Frontiers International Travel, Susie Fitzgerald, Fly fishing

Susie and Michael Fitzgerald, co-founders of Frontiers International Travel, circa 1990.

"My parents felt there needed to be a company that really catered to people who wanted to do complex international travel," said her son, Michael Fitzgerald, Jr. "They were one of the early pioneers in adventure travel."

On Thursday, August 20, following complications during heart surgery, the travel industry lost one of its most influential women, Susie Fitzgerald, co-founder of Frontiers International Travel. She was 76.

For the past 50 years, Susie has been instrumental in pioneering fly fishing destinations like Christmas Island, Patagonia, Iceland, and the Ponoi River in Russia. She helped forge many of the supplier relationships still in place today and initiated many of Frontiers' sporting programs.

In the late 1960's and 70's there were virtually no US travel companies arranging high-end sporting tours. In fact, there were very few quality lodges in general, and almost none of them were open to the public.

Susie and her husband Michael helped change all that when they founded Frontiers in 1969. Their mission was to visit lodges across the globe, set standards for service & accommodations, and become the one-stop-shop for discerning sportsmen and women.

Exploratory trips to Brazil, Africa, Ecuador, Iceland, Mexico, Iran, and Patagonia followed. As Susie and Mike increased their knowledge of the worldwide luxury adventure travel industry, they built credibility with clients, which have included U.S. Presidents, CEOs, celebrities, international dignitaries, and more.

Susie used to say, "Michael handles the forest, and I handle the trees." All who knew them can appreciate the testament this bears to strength of their partnership. Indeed, Susie's perpetual optimism was balanced by unwavering practicality and an eye for the details.

Over the past half century, Susie adventured all over the world and helped build Frontiers into an international travel behemoth. Her children Mike and Mollie now run the operation.

"My parents felt there needed to be a company that really catered to people who wanted to do complex international travel," said her son, Michael Fitzgerald, Jr. "They were one of the early pioneers in adventure travel."

Susie was most at home in her splendid garden. A passionate horticulturalist, she had one of the most admired private gardens in Western Pennsylvania. Susie undoubtedly had a green thumb, but it was not just the trees and flowers she nurtured. Her generous spirit and boundless compassion deeply enriched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her.

Though small in stature, Susie bravely faced giant health challenges. Diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mother at age 29, she soldiered through massive doses of radiation, moved house, wrangled toddlers, and started a business. In the subsequent forty-six years, she was blessed to be cancer-free and lived each day to the fullest.

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Adam York
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