Executive housekeeper puts away final load of laundry 

Crystal Lodge sees end to an era with retirement of long-time employee roberta sutherland

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Not long after the Nancy Greene Lodge opened its doors, Roberta Sutherland was hired as a housekeeper. And so began a 25-year career that officially comes to an end on May 1.

Her friends and co-workers know her as Bobbie and in the past 25 years Sutherland has seen many changes. One was the amalgamation of the 91-room Nancy Greene Lodge with the Crystal Lodge next door to create a 195-room hotel.

She is winding down her career as the executive housekeeper at the Crystal after outlasting more than six hotel general managers, meeting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and showing generosity toward her co-workers.

According to Crystal Lodge general manager Ian Lowe, Sutherland did things effectively using old-school methods. He cites her ability to get the job done without needing a computer.

He also said her dedication was matched by her generosity. Lowe explained that during the Christmas holidays Sutherland didn't have any plans for Christmas.

"Next thing you know she brought in a turkey dinner for our staff housing people because she knows they are without," said Lowe. "Computers — who cares? Stuff like that is the real deal."

From her home in Squamish, Sutherland confirmed the turkey dinner story.

A smoker, she said in the early days she smoked in her office but that changed when new smoking rules were created and she was forced to smoke outside.

"The smoking area right now is still right outside my office," she said.

"We've really been lucky with lots of good bosses," said Sutherland after going through the list starting with Joe Simmons, her original general manager, and on to the GM's in the early years: Jill Webb, John Douglas and Rosemary Cook.

She said many people working at the Crystal Lodge have been there for as long or longer than she has because of how well they have been treated by a succession of good leaders.

One of Sutherland's favourite memories was meeting Pierre Trudeau. She said the staff was instructed to leave him alone, but the directive didn't prevent Sutherland from seeking out the legendary politician and asking him to autograph a book for her.

"We weren't supposed to go near him and I went near him," said Sutherland.

Now that she's retired she has a two-week trip to Jamaica planned. After that she said she plans to do lots of travelling closer to home.

"I don't really like to fly," she noted.

A party is planned for May 1 to send Sutherland off into retirement with a memorable final staff bash.

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