JFK Airport Business Leader and Airport Icon Passes Away

The JFK Airport community mourns the loss of Bill Puckhaber, a respected and important figure in the New York aviation community.

Bill Puckhaber
Bill Puckhaber and his wife Stephanie pose for a photo during the 2014 Semantics Dinner Dance (Photo Courtesy: The Semantics)

Bill Puckhaber, founder and CEO of Pan American Training Institute and Publisher of the Airport Press passed away in Somers, NY with his family around him on Sunday, October 1st, 2017.

Bill was a native Brooklynite, attended St. Johns University where he achieved academic honors and was inducted into the Who’s Who of American Students. After college, Bill entered the US Army and served stateside and in Europe. Upon his return to civilian life, he decided on embarking on a career in aviation and was hired by Pan American World Airways. His career with Pan Am was successful, moving up the ladder to Station Manager postings at Roberts Field in Africa, the air hub of the African continent, and at Taipei Airport in Taiwan. He was then brought back to the states and was promoted to President of Pan Am World Services, the subsidiary of the airline that ran airports.

When Pan Am went bankrupt in 1991, Bill was determined to stay in aviation and founded an aviation school headquartered at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Pan American Training Institute, and took over a newspaper named Airport Press that he grew from an obscure publication to one serving the entire metropolitan New York airport complex.

Bill was a welcome figure around JFK and New York area airports and took on important jobs within the airport community. He served as President of the JFK Chamber of Commerce, and officer in Semantics, who honored him with man of the year honors and was deeply involved in all the organizations that dealt with the airport’s cargo and business affiliations. Bill was an instrumental part of bringing Aviation High Schools campus into JFK, and was an active supporter of Vaughn College.

His work with the religious community was the thing that gave him the most satisfaction and he was honored as Catholic Man of the Year by Our Lady of the Skies chapel, and he could be considered the driving force behind the success of the Notre Dame sisters school for women in Jamaica.

Bill leaves his wife Stephanie and children, Stephen, Bill Jr., Jennifer Gregory and her husband, Michael. He enjoyed being a grandfather to Hollie, Jack and Maddie. Bill was a brother of Ruth Smith, Larry, Robert and Frank. He is survived by many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held on Thursday, October 5th, 2PM-4PM, and 7PM-9PM:

Clark Associates Funeral Home
4 Woods Bridge Road,
Katonah, New York 10536
Tel: (914) 232-3033

Mass will be on Friday, October 6th, 11:30AM:

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
95 Plum Brook Road
Somers, New York 10589
Tel: (914) 232-2910

After service gathering:

Le Fontane Ristorante
137 Somers Town Road,
Katonah, NY 10536
Tel: (914) 232-9619

In lieu of flowers, please send your contributions to: The School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center, or to The Sematics

Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards.Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.


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