Jack Ahern, union leader, IDA board member, dies at 60
John "Jack" T. Ahern, business manager and financial secretary of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30 and grand marshal of this year's New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, died in his home in Old Westbury on June 17 of complications from esophageal cancer. He was 60.
Born in Brooklyn to Jack and Margaret Ahern, he graduated from Nazareth High School and attended Brooklyn College for three years.
He began working for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, based in Queens, as an apprentice in 1974.
In 1999, he was elected business manager and financial secretary, and maintained those positions until his death.
Ahern served as chairman of the trustees to the International Union of Operating Engineers and trustee at the IUOE Northeastern Conference. He also was vice chairman of the NYC Municipal Labor Committee, executive board member of the New York Building Congress and a member of the board of trustees for Molloy College.
In 35 years as a labor leader, his family said, Ahern represented more than 4,600 members in the private and public sectors.
"He worked all the time," said his wife, Susan Kawamoto. "He loved it." In 1983, Ahern married Kawamoto, whom he met at a friend's house in the Hamptons. They wed in St. Patrick Church in Brooklyn.
Ahern was very active in the Irish-American community, his family said. Besides being the 253rd grand marshal at the annual Manhattan parade, Ahern was grand marshal in 2000 and 2013 of the Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade. He also was on the board of Emerald Isle Immigration Center.
At the 2013 Great Irish Fair in Coney Island, he was awarded the title Irishman of the Year. He also was named 2013 Labor Leader of the Year by the Knights of St. Patrick.
"He was loved by all," Kawamoto said. "He had a great sense of humor, he was a great man."
The board of directors of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency paused Tuesday night in Ahern's honor.
Ahern's death was marked with a moment of silence and an empty chair at the head of the conference room table in county hall in Mineola. He was "a great friend and fantastic board member," board chairman Timothy Williams said.
The IDA provides tax breaks to expanding businesses in the county; its directors are not paid.
Ahern was appointed to the IDA in February 2013 by County Executive Edward Mangano.
Ahern also is survived by his children, Corey Ahern and Taryn Ahern, both of Westbury, and Michael Ahern of Manhattan; his mother, Margaret Ahern of Carle Place; his brother, Liam Ahern of upstate Patterson; and sisters Christine Rizzo of Carle Place and Karen Turton of Westbury.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, 59-26 Woodside Ave., Woodside, NY 11377.
With James T. Madore