By Jacob Glassner
If you mention the name Carla Sue in Louisville social circles, there’s no need to say a last name. People will know you’re talking about the one and only Carla Sue Broecker.
With her whimsical glasses and Cheshire Cat grin, Carla Sue is a Louisville institution. A socialite of socialites.
When I worked at The Voice-Tribune, the general manager referred to her as the “queen.” When Carla Sue graced us with her presence to drop off her column, we were greeted with a big “heelllloooo” that echoed down the halls.
Carla Sue wrote her Partyline column for The Voice for close to 50 years. Each week, she talked about the comings and goings of the ‘who’s who’ of the Louisville social scene — some of whom also went by single names: Woo, Sug, Cissy. She gushed about cocktail parties, progressive dinners, intimate gatherings, galas and fetes — many at estates that had names instead of addresses.
I often wondered how she had the time and energy to go to three or four parties in a week. Parties exhaust many folks, but I think they energized her because she loves people. She likes meeting new people and having drinks with ones she’s known for decades. And people are what make parties great.
“In the best parties, the mix of people is the most important thing,” she said in a 2018 Voice article. “It can be a hog-calling contest, and if you have the right people there who are fun, delightful people, it will work.”
Whether a party was great or not so great, Carla Sue always put a positive spin on her coverage. In the days before social media, Carla Sue had an extensive list of people she called friends. And she often called on those friends to help support charities that were close to her heart — like the Louisville Deaf Oral School, now Heuser Hearing and Language Academy. She Ran Fabulous Finds, a resale shop to benefit the school, for more than 20 years.
Carla Sue wrote her first column for what was then The Voice of St. Matthews when she was 10 years old. It was a riveting article about a Sunday bridge party and dinner held by the ladies of Springdale Presbyterian Church. The Voice publisher was a family friend and gave Carla Sue the opportunity to write.
She continued writing articles for The Voice until she married Brad Broecker in 1961. She took some time off after getting married, but she started writing her weekly column, Partyline, in the late 1960s after raising her two daughters, Leslie and Amy.
Even though The Voice went through several ownership changes over the years, the Partyline continued on as a fixture of the paper.
But Carla Sue didn’t just write about parties. She wrote a weekly travel column when she and Brad took months-long world cruises. I never knew where she was going to be next. One week she’d be reporting from Bali and the next week it’d be Vietnam.
Carla Sue wrote her final column for The Voice in 2018.
“I loved writing for The Voice. It was a pain in the ass sometimes, but I honestly loved doing it,” she said. “I met wonderful, fun people, and of course, the eccentric ones, too.”