Chip Holsworth, president of the Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pennsylvania, said that the local military advocacy group will have to search "far and wide" to find another leader like Sally Haas.
Haas, the president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce and the co-chair of its military coalition, died unexpectedly on Thursday following surgery for an undisclosed condition. She was 58 and lived in Whitehall Borough.
A fixture at coalition meetings and Moon Township military community events, Haas was tireless in her efforts to stave off a potential closure of the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon, Holsworth said.
"She was our most active member," Holsworth said. "It's an incredible loss."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who spoke Friday morning at the 911th, offered a moment of silence in remembrance of the local business leader.
"I don't think the 911th had a bigger supporter than Sally Haas," Corbett said.
Haas had served as the president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce since 1998. She previously served as the membership director of the organization.
Chamber Second Chair Bernadette Puzzuole said that the organization grew from 800 to 1,100 members under Haas' leadership.
"It's hard to believe we have our Mark of Excellence awards coming up Jan. 17, and Sally had already been planning and working on that," Puzzuole said. "She was thinking ahead and planning ahead. Nobody anticipated this."
Puzzuole said that, with Haas at its helm, the airport chamber expanded its offerings for members to include weekly luncheons, breakfasts and workshops. Haas organized forums for local government leaders as well as the chamber's annual Jinglefest, which raised money for local military families.
"Sally was probably the first to recognize the importance of the local military to this area's economy," Puzzuole said.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, appearing alongside Corbett in Moon on Friday, said that Haas will be "sorely missed."
"For years, Sally worked for much of the growth we've seen in the airport corridor," Fitzgerald said.
Haas is survived by her husband of 36 years, Allen Haas, and two daughters, Kristen Haas and Jill Knut Kipper.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the John F. Slater Funeral Home in Brentwood Borough. A funeral prayer will be held there at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 10 a.m. at St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin Church, according to Slater's website.
Do you have condolences or remembrances for the Haas family? Please leave them in the comments section below.
This article originally appeared on the Robinson-Moon Patch.
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