Chip Holsworth, president of the Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pennsylvania, said the local military advocacy group will have to search "far and wide" to find another leader like Sally Haas.
Haas, president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of its military coalition, died unexpectedly Thursday following surgery for an undisclosed condition. She was 58.
A fixture at coalition meetings and Moon 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 president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce since 1998. She previously served as membership director for the organization.
Chamber second chair Bernadette Puzzuole said 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 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 the 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 Haas will be "sorely missed."
"For years, Sally worked for much of the growth we've seen in the airport corridor," he said.
Haas, who resided in Whitehall, 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 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the John F. Slater Funeral Home in Brentwood. Funeral prayer will be held at 9:15 a.m. Monday, with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 10 a.m. in St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin Church, according to the funeral home.
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