In Memoriam


In Memory of

Susan M. Baer

August 9, 2016


Memorial Service
12:00 pm Saturday, August 27, 2016
First Lutheran Church
153 Park Street
Montclair, New Jersey  07042
Click here for directions to Church

Hugh M. Moriarty Funeral Home
76 Park Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
(973) 744-4346

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, said.

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 nationwide.

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.”

Director - 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.

A Message 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 - in succession - 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.”

Airport modernization 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 something.”


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