Virginia Y. “Ginny” Black, former public relations director at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), died last month after a lengthy illness. She was 79.

Black, a native of Los Angeles and longtime resident of Manhattan Beach, headed the LAX public relations office from 1977 to 1988 — years when the airport added a second level roadway, two new terminals and major airfield improvements.

Black managed a staff of 43 and a $2 million budget. She retired from the position in 1988.

“Ginny didn’t just wait for things to happen,” said Ethel Pattison, veteran LAX public relations staff member. She always was proactive, investigating how other airports communicated with the public, networking with LAX engineers and contractors and sending her staff into the community to spread the word that no project would keep the public from their travels.”

Black was a graduate of Polytechnic High School and USC, where she served as desk editor of the Daily Trojan newspaper. She worked as a local news reporter before beginning her career at LAX as an airport guide.

As Los Angeles prepared to host the Olympic Games in 1984, Black and her staff had the responsibility of keeping the public informed of daily changes in traffic routes around LAX terminals and roadway construction in order to get passengers to their flights on time.

Her colleagues say that Black had an insatiable curiosity about every detail of airport construction. She and her staff were also responsible for the dedication ceremonies and formal groundbreaking of each LAX project.

Jack Francois, Black’s former LAX assistant, recalls that Black directed preparation of invitations, speeches, programs, news releases and other publicity for each event.

“With her newspaper background, Ginny was an excellent writer,” Francois said. “She also had a knack for hiring competent communicators for her staff, which was especially critical in getting construction news out to media and travel agents.”

Although Black’s job involved frequent interaction with celebrities and elected officials, she remained modest and unassuming throughout her career.

She was known for staying out of publicity photos and giving her staff much of the credit for work she had directed.

“As LAX public relations director, Ginny had many opportunities to take the spotlight, but did not,” Pattison said. “That is one reason she was so much respected by those who knew and worked with her.”

Black is survived by her children Bruce Black of Oahu, Hawaii; Donna Zevlely of Pagosa Springs, Colorado; Susie Harper of Northern California, and David Black of Avalon, Catalina Island, and six grandchildren.