Former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer dies at 81

Susan Hammer, San Jose's mayor from 1991 until 1999, died Saturday night, family members announced Sunday afternoon. She was 81.

Hammer, who had battled Alzheimer's disease, was surrounded by family and friends when she passed at her San Jose home, they said.

Cindy Chavez, a former San Jose City Council member and current Santa Clara County Supervisor, said Hammer was a role model for the entire San Jose community.

"Susan demonstrated bold and inclusive leadership forming the Mayor's Gang Task Force and building the arts," Chavez said Sunday on Twitter. "Her legacy of accomplishment will be heralded."

Added Richard Nguyen, a member of the Campbell Unified School District board, "San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer showed me what it meant to be a good, kind and thoughtful leader. We have lost a remarkable person, but her legacy and impact will live on."


A San Jose City Council member from 1983 until 1990, Hammer - as mayor - was a leader in fundraising for the former San Jose Repertory Theatre building (now the San Jose State University Hammer Theatre Center) and oversaw the construction of the San Jose Arena, now known as SAP Center, and affectionately as the Shark Tank, as the home of hockey's San Jose Sharks, which opened in 2003. 

Shortly after her mayoral stint ended, Hammer was appointed by then-Gov. Gray Davis in February 1999 to the state Board of Education.

Hammer also was instrumental in the city's partnership with San Jose State University to build the Martin Luther King Library downtown. That library now hosts a collection of documents -- administrative files, press and publicity, awards, photographs, videotapes, correspondence, and other memorabilia --from Hammer's two terms as mayor known collectively as the "Susan Hammer Papers," highlighting Hammer's involvement in San Jose community and economic development.