In Memoriam


In Memory of

Louis J. La Capra

November 29, 2017


Louis J. La Capra, 79, beloved husband of Prapaporn "Prim", father to Quintana, brother to Richard and Vincent, passed away peacefully with Prim at his side November 29, 2017.

Louis, a native of Newark, NJ and an alumni of Rutgers University with graduate degrees from Newark College of Engineering and NYU, had a long and distinguished career at the Port Authority of NY and NJ. He served in top executive positions including Chief Administrative Officer.

A funeral mass will be celebrated Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 10 am in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Louis may be made to the American Lung Association.

Remembering Lou LaCapra - Article from the PA News

In the Port Authority pantheon, you most certainly will find him — even though he would protest such pomp and circumstance on his behalf. But then again, it’s that steadfast humility, quiet demeanor, and under-the-radar leadership style that staff will remember about the late Louis J. LaCapra, his character, and his enduring legacy. On November 29, Louis J. LaCapra — retired former Chief Administrative Officer and Chief of Staff to the Executive Director — peacefully passed away, with his wife Prapaporn “Prim” at his side. He was 79. He is survived by his wife and daughter, Quintana. 

Mr. LaCapra, whom colleagues simply called Lou, served the Port Authority for 49 years, joining the agency in 1963 and retiring in 2012. He rose through the ranks over those five decades, taking on various leadership roles with ever-increasing responsibility and scope.  In the 1970s, Mr. LaCapra held multiple management roles in Personnel (now known as Human Resources), overseeing areas including compensation, classification. personnel planning and standards, and operations personnel, after which he was named Assistant Director of Personnel.

In 1977, he was appointed Deputy Director of Personnel, a role he held until 1989 when he took over as Director of the department. About a decade later, Mr. LaCapra was named Chief of Staff, serving the Executive Director’s Office up through the events of 9/11. In 2002, he was named Chief Administrative Officer, overseeing all aspects of HR programs and policies in support of the agency’s thousands of employees. Mr. LaCapra served as CAO until his retirement in 2012.

Staffers close to Mr. LaCapra knew him to be an agency stalwart, described as a man of few words who avoided the spotlight — in fact, the PA News editor was unable to find more than a few minor references to him in any past editions, despite his crucial leadership roles. He may have worked behind the scenes, but his ultimate impact on programs to ensure the well-being of PA staff, as well as his dedication to his team and the agency’s success, is all very much in the forefront of veteran employees’ minds.

Chief of Human Capital Mary Lee Hannell said, “Lou unwaveringly steered the Port Authority and its employees through good and difficult times with a steady hand and careful thought. He believed that this great agency could do almost anything and, as a senior executive, he treated that privilege with great respect and, in turn, expected the very best from us. Behind the quiet exterior was a man fiercely dedicated to his family, extremely intelligent, and with a quick wit and easy laugh. I will never forget the opportunities he gave me to go beyond what I thought possible, to reach the highest levels of the organization — to break the glass ceiling — not just as a woman, but also as a professional with a young family.

He was truly ahead of his time.” Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Michael Massiah said, “Lou LaCapra cared about the well-being of our agency’s employees and their families, and designed programs that supported their wellness during their active service and through their retirement years. As a member of his management team, I saw how he allowed us to be innovative in developing human resources programs. In my case, he afforded me the opportunity to develop programs that invited diverse members of the region to seek employment opportunities at our agency, as well as programs that enable staff to grow and to pursue varied career interests.

I thank him for his guidance and words of support.” Chief Procurement Officer Lillian Valenti said, “Lou will always be immortal to the Port Authority and to me — sought often for his wisdom and steadfast guidance, renowned for his problem-solving and creative skills, respected for his low-key quiet style, and legendary for his everlasting commitment and impact to the staff and the agency.

An extraordinary person, colleague, and boss — I credit him very much for the professional I am today.”  Mr. LaCapra’s service was commemorated multiple times by the Board of Commissioners. In 1998, he received the Robert F. Wagner Distinguished Public Service Medal, and in 2007, he was recipient of the Howard S. Cullman Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award for service given by the Board to a PA employee.


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