I first met Ted Bridges at a tourism symposium in 1999. I was the speaker, talking to a gathering of small, tourism-based businesses in Vermont and New Hampshire about attracting more tour groups to their shops, restaurants and hotels. At one point in my presentation, I spoke of the importance of helping a tour operator create a unique experience for his or her travelers and how if you could assist in the creation of that experience, by providing names and contacts and even facilitating the added events yourself, you would win our hearts and our business. Ted worked for the Cortina Inn at the time, and when the opportunity came to share your own creations with the audience, it was obvious to me that Ted “got it.” He had worked with enough tour groups to know what made them tick. He knew a cooking demonstration for the ladies and a cigar symposium for the men was a great way to occupy a lazy New England fall afternoon. He knew the value of a tour operator’s business and how to make a lasting positive impression.
Ted was recovering from double bypass surgery when a staph infection popped up out of nowhere and within a week’s time, took his life. And now the tourism industry has been robbed of one of its most cheerful faces, one of its biggest supporters.
Ted was like many people who make a living in the tourism industry. He had a tremendous passion for his work. You wanted your group to stay with Ted, because whether it was the Cortina Inn, or the Holiday Inn in Rutland, Vermont, where he had hung his hat in recent years; you knew Ted would take care of your people. Every time you saw him, you knew you could pick his brain for ideas, little tidbits of information that might lead to a great experience for your travelers.
Farewell Ted Bridges. You have left us far too soon. There were itineraries still to build and wine yet to be tasted. Cigars will go unsmoked and culinary creations unexplained in your absence. For when God created you Ted, he broke the mold. I was privileged to know you, to share a few laughs and a few short moments with you through the years. They are memories I will cherish. Farewell, my friend. And so it goes…