Suzanne Obser, a longtime resident of Southampton, devoted animal rescuer, and scheduling administrator of the Hampton Jitney for some thirty years, died Thursday, May 11 at Stony Brook Medical Center. She was 52.
Ms. Obser moved to East Hampton with her family when she was 10. After attending East Hampton Middle and High Schools, she received her diploma with honors in 1982, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University in Public Relations and Communications in 1986.
During summers home from college, Ms. Obser worked at the Hampton Jitney taking telephone reservations. After a post-college stint in the same role at Northwest Airlines, during which she traveled widely all over the world, Suzanne went back to Hampton Jitney and became a devoted and much-loved fixture at the Omni, the company’s headquarters. As scheduling administrator, she puzzled together the work hours of up to 300 employees by hand, on paper, in a precise, decorous script -- a blend of artistry, mental gymnastics, and human resources diplomacy uniquely suited to her talents. “She was definitely the brains of the company,” one driver said.
Ms. Obser was also a devoted animal lover, adopting, fostering, and rescuing countless dogs and cats. In recent years, she volunteered at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, venturing out at all hours to save creatures reported to be wounded and helpless. In 2015 she was awarded the Center’s Champion of the Wild award. A petite woman, she nonetheless put on welders’ gloves that reached almost to her shoulders and saved swans, seagulls, pelicans, badgers, squirrels, groundhogs and, with other volunteers, sometimes larger animals as well.
In her spare time Ms. Obser was a Mets fan, a collector of birdhouses, a quilting enthusiast who worked on her late grandmother’s 100-year-old Singer machine, a frequent day tripper to Manhattan for concerts and plays, and a baker of cakes, breads, and Christmas cookies that she brought to the Jitney and mailed as gifts in elaborate beribboned packages. In the summers, she often invited temporary Jitney employees from Eastern Europe to live at her house, and was welcomed as a village hero on a trip to Bulgaria several years ago.
Ms. Obser was born in Flushing, Queens on December 22, 1964. She spent her early childhood in Queens and New Jersey. Diagnosed with a rare heart condition at age 12, she met her health challenges with a fierce determination to live life to the fullest. She entered the hospital complaining of fatigue on May 8, and died of a heart attack on May 11.
She is survived by her mother, Eileen Obser of East Hampton; father, Fred Obser of Floral Park and Scottsdale, Arizona, brother, Jeffrey Obser of Chico, California, many aunts, uncles, and cousins, and several beloved pets.
The family has requested memorial donations be made to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, 228 W. Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, 11946.