They are next-door neighbors and dedicated public servants. Meet the Watson and Suehle families.
First responders have received a lot of well-deserved attention these past few months as they unselfishly continue to serve the public during the pandemic for the betterment of mankind.
But, of course, they have been doing that all along.
It’s not only their job to serve the community, but for many, it’s their passion, as well. And in a quiet Seminole County neighborhood, two families who live next door to one another have more than five decades and a couple of generations of that service between them, with many more years to come.
Meet the Watsons and the Suehles, one family representing the police, the other, fire and rescue. Jamie Watson spent 28 years with the Winter Park Police Department before retiring as a Division Chief in March. Neighbor Scott Suehle is a 24-year veteran District Chief with the Orlando Fire Department. Scott has lived in the neighborhood with his wife Christy and their three children for 18 years. Jamie, her husband Elston, and their four children moved into their home two years ago and found a comrade and ideal neighbor all in one.
“We became fast friends,” says Jamie. “Scott and I definitely have a frame of reference with our command experience.”
“We immediately hit it off,” adds Scott.
“Scott is what I call a user-friendly neighbor,” says Elston, who is a retired United States Army First Sergeant and now coaches junior-varsity basketball at Oviedo High School. “Our house costs $50,000 more than another we were looking at. I tell Scott he is worth $50,000, because it was the neighbor that clinched it.”
But the legacy of the public servant neighbors does not end there. Hannah Suehle, 21, is a paramedic and studying at Valencia College in a paramedic-to-RN bridge program. And both neighbors have sons who are now officially following in their family’s paths. Hagerty High alum Noah Suehle, 20, is a firefighter with Seminole County Fire Department and 20-year-old Isaiah Watson, an Oviedo High graduate, is patrolling the streets of Winter Springs. Both were sworn in this spring.
“It is cool the way our sons followed us into service,” says Jamie. “I am so proud of Isaiah. He has a servant heart.”
A Tale of Two Servants
Jamie got her public-service start in college, assisting the campus police at Ohio University as a security aide.
“I really liked that,” she recalls, adding that what really swayed her toward a career in law enforcement was a female FBI recruiting officer. “She was so smart and enthusiastic. I was impressed.”
A year after graduation, Jamie was hired by the Winter Park PD. She found police work physically and mentally challenging, but she knew she was making a difference.
“There were not many educated females joining the force at that time,” Jamie says. “I started out on patrol, worked as a school resource officer, and eventually a Division Chief. The next step would have been the Chief of Police. I had a great career. It was a fabulous place to work.”
While Jamie loved serving the public and will miss her friends in Winter Park, she is excited to be retired and spend time with her family. Besides Isaiah, she is a mom to Marcus, who is attending University of Central Florida; Jessica, who is partially deaf and will be studying sign language at Valencia College this fall; and Josh, a middle-school student.
“I missed so many things because of shift schedules and being called in,” Jamie says. “I am not going to miss anything anymore.”
Scott, on the other hand, is eligible for retirement, as well, but plans to work two-and-a-half more years, then retire at the same time as his wife Christy, who is in the mental-health field. The couple, married for 25 years, are also parents to daughter Emma, a rising senior at Hagerty High.
Born in Tampa but raised in Orlando, Scott is a cancer survivor and a first-generation firefighter. He learned his craft while stationed in Eastern North Carolina with the U.S. Air Force. His first job was in Brevard County, before landing a firefighter position with Seminole County, coincidentally where his son Noah is now employed.
“It just so happens that two neighbors who are public servants have kids that are following in our footsteps and serving the community in which they grew up,” says Scott. “It’s a great feel-good story.”
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