Susan L. Blair

Susan L. Blair
World Trade Center

Big Laugh, Big Heart

Susan L. Blair had a work-stopping, what's- that-noise kind of laugh. Wherever she has worked, co-workers have asked her to pipe down. "It was high-pitched and loud," said her sister Leslie Blair.

If she was telling a joke, forget it. The laugh and a joke were just too much because she was funny. For example, the day before the World Trade Center attack, she interviewed a prospective hire for Aon, where she was a team leader. "She commented to a co-worker that the person had a fear of heights," Leslie Blair said. "She said to the co-worker, `I'm thinking to myself that we're on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center; you might want to rethink this job.' "

Though some of her jokes were laced with sarcasm, they were not aimed as darts, Ms. Blair's sister said.

In fact, Ms. Blair, 35, from East Brunswick, N.J., had a big heart. She liked getting laughs out of cranky tollbooth workers.

"I would ask her why she cared whether that guy smiled and she would say, `I just do.' She thought life was too short to go around with our shields up."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 28, 2001.

Susan Blair, 35,

insurer supervisor

By Globe Staff, 10/18/2001

A memorial service will be held on Oct. 27 for Susan L. Blair of East Brunswick, N.J., a team leader for Aon Insurance Co. in New York City.

Miss Blair died Sept. 11 in the attack on the World Trade Center, where her office was located. She was 35.

Born in St. Louis, she graduated from Needham High School in 1984.

After graduating from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., she was an account executive at William Gallagher Associates and assistant vice president of Sheppard Riley Coughlin, both insurance companies based in Boston.

She then joined Aon Insurance, where she supervised a staff of 25.

Miss Blair leaves her mother, Sally T. White of North Attleborough; a sister, Leslie Blair Alvarado of Randolph, N.J.; and her fiance, Dan Walisiak of East Brunswick.

The memorial service will be held at noon in Second Congregational Church in Attleboro.
Editorial Obituary published in THE BOSTON GLOBE on October 18, 2001.

Susan Blair, 35, a warm, unselfish exec

Susan L. Blair of East Brunswick would drive through toll booths in her small black convertible and shock the toll collectors with, "Hey, how're you doing? How's the family?"

The greeting was so sincere that in most cases she would get the smile she was after, explained Ms. Blair's sister, Leslie Blair Alvarado of Randolph. She said her little sister was on a mission to make people happy.

"I will miss her counsel, her good humor, her take-charge attitude," said Alvardo, "particularly now, when I feel so lost. I keep thinking, 'Oh, she'd know just what to tell me.' "

Ms. Blair, a 35-year-old insurance executive, was killed in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center terrorist attack. She was a team leader for Aon Insurance and worked on the 92nd floor of the South Tower, the second one hit and the first to fall. It was a job she started in May.

In addition to her family, she leaves behind a fiancé, Dan Walisiak of East Brunswick. They have heard from enough witnesses to piece together this picture of Ms. Blair's last, brave moments. Alvarado said it is a picture that fits the woman they knew.

As soon as the North Tower was hit, Ms. Blair took the initiative to get everyone on her floor to safety. She started directing traffic, telling everyone, "This is not a drill. Let's go. Let's move." One of the people on the floor was a small woman who was five months pregnant and needed help on the stairway. Ms. Blair took the other woman under her wing, guiding her down the stairs to about the 78th floor, where they got into an elevator. That was the last time either of them was seen.

"It just was not in her nature to be selfish," her sister explained. Ms. Blair cared for their grandmother when she was dying. And when a friend's baby was diagnosed with cancer, Ms. Blair slept at the hospital so the family could take a break without leaving the child alone.

It was an 18-month-long battle and "Sue supported that family the whole time. She put her own life on hold -- or just worked it in. It was effortless for her. A lot of other people make a big deal out of making a phone call," her sister said.

Ms. Blair loved children, who called her "Aunt Sue" whether they were related or not, and was working toward a teaching degree. She also was an official "hugger" for the Special Olympics, one of the people who make certain all of the children in the competition get a big, warm hug at the finish line.

She was born in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in Needham, Mass. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., in 1988 and immediately began a career in insurance at Sedgwick in Boston. She also worked for William Gallagher and Sheppard Riley Coughlin, both in Boston.

Ms. Blair is also survived by her mother, Sally T. White of North Attleboro, Mass.; a cousin, Heather Todd of Medfield, Mass., and other relatives.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 27 at the Second Congregational Church, 50 Park Street, Attleboro, Mass.

A fund to educate teachers at Colby-Sawyer College has been established in her name. Donations may be sent to The Susan L. Blair Memorial Scholarship, C/O Prudential Securities Inc., P.O. Box 1525, Bryn Mawr, Pa.19010-9818.

Profile by Joan Whitlow published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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