Susan Hammer, Former San Jose Mayor Who Served on Board of Education, Dies at 81

The San Jose community is mourning the loss of a trailblazer.

Former San Jose Mayor and California Board of Education member Susan Hammer passed away Saturday. She was 81.

Hammer served on the San Jose City Council from 1983 until 1990. She was elected mayor in 1991 and was appointed to the state Board of Education by Gray Davis in 1999.

“San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer showed me what it meant to be a good, kind and thoughtful leader,” Campbell Unified School Board Trustee Richard Nguyen told SF Gate. “We have lost a remarkable person, but her legacy and impact will live on."

San Jose’s current mayor Sam Liccardo issued the following statement

Susan was an extraordinary role model for me and entire generations of aspiring leaders. She was a study in contrasts—she had a deep commitment to underserved communities, a steadfast civility in the face of heated disagreement, and a genuine humility despite her tremendous professional and personal accomplishment. I’ll remember forever the bookends of my life experiences with Susan: we first met when I was a young candidate for city council, and I drove to her and Phil’s house. She magnanimously shared time, advice, and encouragement with me, just before my Chrysler broke down in her driveway. She didn’t bat an eye—she helped me get a ride, and let the car sit at her house until I could get it towed the next day. Yesterday, I was blessed to share a few moments with her and her loving family in her final hours. Susan made San José a place for compassionate action, for artistic celebration, and for youthful aspiration. I know I’m not alone in saying that I will miss her tremendously.”

Hammer was suffering from Alzheimer’s, according to her family. She died surrounded by loved ones at her San Jose home.