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Passenger: Honor Elizabeth Wainio

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Early in September, Honor Elizabeth Wainio relaxed on the bank of the Seine River while vacationing in Paris and drank in the sunset. All around her, people were rushing, but she just stood still, a pillar of calm, fully absorbing the waning day's beauty.

Honor Elizabeth Wainio
dot.gif Regional manager, Discovery Channel stores, 27, Watchung, N.J. (Personal photo)
Father, Ben Wainio, stepmother, Esther Heymann; mother, Mary White, stepfather Jay White; brother, Tom Wainio; sister, Sarah Wainio, 14
She was on her way to a company-wide business meeting

Sometimes Wainio was one of those rushing people. She had enjoyed a meteoric rise in the ranks of the Discovery Channel outlets, starting as a store manager in Baltimore two years earlier, becoming the top-performing regional manager in the 170-store chain, and then ascending to regional manager for New York and New Jersey.

But on that day, Wainio knew how to step back and live in the moment. As her stepmother, Esther Heymann, said, people can be 110 years old and not learn to appreciate life. By age 27, Wainio had discovered the secret.

Since she was young, the extroverted little girl called Honor - after a family nickname for her grandmother, Eleanor - had lived on fast forward, her young life a melange of ballet lessons and tap classes and learning the viola.

During high school in Catonsville, Md., when she became known as "Lizz," Wainio never sat still. She acted, played in the orchestra, was named to a county all-star field hockey team, captained the cheerleading squad, presided over the varsity club, and served as news editor of the school paper.

Wainio had planned to parlay that last activity into a career, and took up mass communications in college. But her fascination with retail grew the more she worked, first at Baskin-Robbins in high school, then Crabtree & Evelyn and Gymboree in college, and finally, the Discovery Channel.

Armed with "carpe diem" as a motto, Wainio evolved into a champion motivator of people, playing pumped-up music in the background when leaving messages for co-workers.

She also could accept motivation from others. The day before Wainio turned 17, a memorial service was held for her grandmother. She felt uncomfortable celebrating her own birthday, but Heymann convinced her to.

"A year later, as I sit and remember my 17th birthday, I know it was filled with sadness," Wainio wrote. "Yet at the same time, it was probably the first birthday I had ever had that was truly a celebration of life."

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