In Memory of
Susan M. Baer
August 9, 2016
12:00 pm Saturday, August 27, 2016
First Lutheran Church
153 Park Street
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Click here for directions to
Hugh M. Moriarty Funeral Home
76 Park Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
Obituary of Susan Baer
From the New York Times
Susan M. Baer, the first person to run all three major
airports in the New York metropolitan area for the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey and the first woman
to be named its aviation director, died on Tuesday at
her home in Upper Montclair, N.J. She was 65.
The cause was cancer, her husband, Joseph Martella,
A longtime official for the Port Authority, Ms. Baer was
also the first woman to run the Lincoln Tunnel, which
connects New York and New Jersey under the Hudson River.
She ran the airports successively: La Guardia from 1994
to 1998, Newark Liberty International until 2007, and
John F. Kennedy International until 2008.
At each she directed modernization efforts, including
major investments by Delta and JetBlue, and advanced the
installation of the NextGen satellite navigation
technology to reduce flight delays and improve safety.
(In Newark she also oversaw Teterboro, a general
aviation field in New Jersey.)
When she was named the agency’s aviation director in
2009, her responsibilities expanded to include Atlantic
City International Airport in New Jersey and Stewart
International Airport, near Newburgh, N.Y., in the
Hudson Valley. She oversaw a staff of more than 930
aviation department employees, a $2.3 billion operating
budget and $500 million in construction spending.
Her career touched on nearly every form of
transportation, beginning with the Panama Canal, where,
after college, she worked for a nongovernmental agency.
Hired by the Port Authority in 1976 after returning from
Panama, she immediately found that the agency’s
reputation as a male bastion was justified.
“They wanted women who could type,” she recalled, as
quoted in 2006 in Tom Murphy’s book “Reclaiming the Sky:
9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept
America Flying.” “I convinced them that after traveling
on my own through South and Central America, I could
take whatever they gave me.”
She joined the Port Authority as a management analyst,
working in the tunnels, bridges and terminals
departments, before joining aviation in 1988.
Ms. Baer was on duty in Newark on the morning of Sept.
11, 2001, when two jetliners, commandeered by
terrorists, crashed into the World Trade Center. She had
a view of the attack from the fourth-floor window of the
airport’s administration building. She immediately
halted all departures from Newark, 14 minutes before the
Federal Aviation Administration shut airports
Susan May Baer was born in Allentown, Pa., on Aug. 25,
1950, the daughter of Kurt Baer, a construction
supervisor, and the former Elizabeth Bader. She earned a
bachelor’s degree in urban studies and anthropology from
Barnard College in 1972 and a master’s degree in
business from New York University.
In addition to Mr. Martella, a retired Port Authority
police captain, she is survived by their children, Nick,
Lizzie and Jack; her sister, Sally Kuhn; and her
brothers, John and Kurt.
When she retired in 2013 after 37 years at the Port
Authority to join Arup, an engineering consulting firm,
as global aviation planning leader, s. Baer acknowledged
her role as a pioneer.
“What I’ve tried to do with it is give other women
opportunities, and that’s something all women should be
doing,” she told USA Today. “It was hard for us to get
here, but we ought to be making it easier for the people
who are coming behind us.”
- Aviation Department - The Port Authority of NY & NJ
Susan M. Baer is
responsible for the safe and efficient operation of one
of the world’s busiest airport systems—John F. Kennedy
International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia,
Teterboro and Stewart International airports. She
oversees a staff of more than 930 Port Authority
employees, more than
3,500 contract staff, a $2.3 billion operating budget
and a $500 million capital budget. About 100 air
carriers operate at the agency’s airports, which served
109.4 million passengers and handled more than two
million tons of cargo in 2012. The Port Authority’s
airport system supports more than 450,000 jobs paying
more than $23 billion in annual wages and generating
more than $63 billion in annual economic activity.
Ms. Baer is a 37-year veteran of
the Port Authority. She began her career with the
bi-state agency as a management analyst. In 1985, she
was promoted from manager of the Public Services
Division of the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals
Department to manager of the Lincoln Tunnel—the first
woman to hold that job. The following year, she became
manager of the midtown Manhattan Port Authority Bus
Terminal, the world’s busiest—the first woman promoted
to that position as well. In 1988, she moved from buses
to planes, joining the Aviation Department as General
Manager of Aviation Customer and Marketing Services.
Ms. Baer is the first person in
agency history to manage all of the major Port Authority
airports. She was appointed General Manager of LaGuardia
Airport in 1994, General Manager of New Jersey Airports
(Newark and Teterboro) in June 1998, and General Manager
of Kennedy Airport in 2007. She was named Deputy
Director/Chief Operating Officer of the Aviation
Department in 2008 and became Director of Aviation on
September 25, 2009.
Ms. Baer is active in the
communities surrounding the airports, serving on the
Board of Vaughn College of Aeronautics and the Newark
Museum. In addition, she was one of only three airport
representatives among the 19 members of the Future of
Aviation Advisory Committee created by U.S.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and she is a member
of the NextGen Advisory Committee—one of just two
airport operators on this advisory panel to the Federal
Aviation Administration. She has been honored by the New
Jersey AFL-CIO; the Newark International Airport Airline
Managers Association; the Newark Regional Business
Partnership; Barnard College; the YWCA of New York; the
Boy Scouts, and the Aviation Institute, among others.
Ms. Baer holds a bachelor’s degree
in urban studies and anthropology from Barnard College
and a master’s degree in business administration from
New York University. She resides in Upper Montclair, New
Jersey, with her husband and three children.
Note from Webmaster: Susan
passed away yesterday and as no information is available
yet, I thought it would be appropriate that I post her
Bio and a message from the PA until I get the Obituary information. May she
rest in peace.
from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
on the Life and Career of Susan Baer
Susan M. Baer, who shattered
longstanding gender barriers at the Port
Authority of New York and New
Jersey by becoming the agency’s first female aviation
director after becoming the only person to manage all
three major NYC metropolitan area airports, died on
Tuesday, August 9, 2016. She was 65.
Ms. Baer, a natural leader
who was persuasive without ever being overbearing and
firm without ever making others feel threatened, was
compassionate to her core. Her illustrious
transportation career that spanned four decades began at
the Panama Canal with a non-governmental
agency, where she worked until the United States turned
the facility over to the Panamanians.
After returning to the United
States, Ms. Baer started her 37-year
tenure with the Port Authority in 1976, managing the
Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Lincoln Tunnel
before moving to the agency’s Aviation Department, where
she would leave her greatest mark on the agency and the
region, holding every top job in the nation’s largest
aviation system. She was the first female appointed as
general manager to
LaGuardia, Newark Liberty
International and John F. Kennedy International
airports, before being named Aviation Director in 2009.
Succeeding at a time when the Port Authority was a male-dominated
agency, Ms. Baer understood the importance of being a
role model and mentored other women who would eventually
follow in her leadership roles at the airports.
“The first is fine, but I
don’t want to be the only,” Ms. Baer told USA Today in a
2013 interview about her career and role as the agency’s
first woman aviation director. “What I’ve tried to do
with it is give other women opportunities and that’s
something all women should be doing. It was hard for us
to get here but we ought to be making it easier for the
people who are coming behind us.”
Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey said, “Sue Baer's
career was one of many firsts; first woman to run many
of our major transportation facilities and first female
Director of Aviation. She left a legacy of
professionalism, integrity and leadership at the Port
Authority. Her colleagues responded to her service with
fierce loyalty. Sue was a great public servant.”
efforts, including overseeing the revamping of old and
building of new terminals at Newark Liberty and Kennedy
airports, was one of Ms. Baer’s priorities. She had a
ready response for those who asked her when all the work
would finally be done.
“I tell them: I hope never,
because that means we’ve stopped working and we’re not
really meeting the needs of the future,” Ms. Baer also
told USA Today. “You’ve always got to be doing