ZAB VP Michael Blaisuis, 1959-2013; NATCA Loses Close Friend and Career-Long Union Brother
Friday, May 17, 2013

Michael Blaisuis, with his son Derek and wife Stephanie.

Michael Blaisuis, a 29-year veteran air traffic controller whose dedication to NATCA was exemplified in many positions including serving as the local vice president at Albuquerque Center (ZAB) since 2011, died suddenly on May 4. He was 54.

Mr. Blaisuis, affectionately known as “Beezer,” became an air traffic controller in 1984 and spent his entire FAA career at ZAB. He served not only as the facility’s vice president since November 2011 but also as its main point of contact for the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program.

“What made him so special as a person is that he was the most likable guy you ever met,” ZAB Facility Representative Mike Meredith said. “He always had good humor and a balanced approach to problem solving.”

Previous to becoming ZAB VP, Mr. Blaisuis served as an area rep and ERAM test lead and also oversaw the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) implementation at ZAB.

“I met Mike about 18 months ago at an ERAM Steering Committee meeting, prior to ZAB going IOC (initial operating capability),” Southwest Regional Vice President Tim Smith said. “He was a very dedicated member of NATCA and beloved and respected as a leader at ZAB. It is always horrible when someone dies far too early, especially when it is unexpected. Our entire region’s thoughts are with Mike’s family and friends and ZAB brothers and sisters.”

Meredith said his fondest memory came during the time the VP position on the ZAB Executive Board was vacant.

“I remember asking Mike, who was doing ERAM testing at the time, if he was interested in filling in for a few months until the next election,” Meredith said. “Having previously served as a VP in the 1990s, we had confidence he would serve the local well and, really, we wouldn’t need him to do much. I said at the time we would need someone to ‘just hold down the office when I am gone and sign some vouchers, that kind of thing.’

“After running for the office unopposed in the subsequent election, he never failed to remind me of how I sucked him back in. ‘Just sign checks, you said.’”

Mr. Blaisuis was a native New Yorker, a graduate of Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. He attended Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., and graduated in 1981.

“He will be deeply missed,” Meredith said. “The facility is recovering and I applaud the CISM efforts of NATCA and the CISM Team for their role.”

Meredith said the facility purchased memorial wristbands in the colors of the Green Bay Packers, Mr. Blaisuis’s favorite team, for the facility and his family, “so we could hold onto his memory just a little bit longer.”

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Stephanie, his son Derek, 19, a freshman at Arizona State University, brother Richard Blaisuis, sisters Grace Blaisuis and Agnes Spero, several nieces and nephews and many friends.

His hobbies included watching Derek play baseball, as well as playing softball, golfing, gardening and riding his bicycle. “He died doing something he loved, riding bicycles,” Meredith said.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said members from all over the country are expressing their thoughts and prayers to Stephanie and Derek. “We are all grieving and saddened by the loss of a close friend and career-long NATCA brother,” they said.

NATCA has created a posting about Mr. Blaisuis on its Facebook page (Click HERE) and invites members to post their remembrances and their thoughts. Mr. Blaisuis's Facebook page can be found HERE.