Barbara Spector Yeninas, Maritime Media Trailblazer, Passes at 84

Barbara Spector Yeninas

Published Jun 5, 2024 2:40 PM by BSY Associates


Barbara Spector Yeninas, of Holmdel, NJ, died on May 31 at the age of 84. She was the founder of the premier marketing communications agency BSY Associates, which specialized in maritime, supply chain and logistics and this year celebrated 50 years of business. She will long be remembered as a trailblazer who paved the way for women in the male-dominated maritime industry.

Barbara Spector Yeninas was born on March 21, 1940, in the Bronx, NY, to parents Rose Olenberg Spector and Robert Spector. She moved with her family to Lakewood, NJ, where, as a gifted student, she skipped two grades and graduated high school at the age of 16. She discovered her love of journalism while attending New York University—her college editorial column “Barb Wire” was known around campus for its sharp wit and peek into local life. Her first professional position was with the Asbury Park Press, but she very quickly—and very famously—moved over to its competitor, the Newark Evening News, as a general assignment reporter.

While covering the port-driven city, Barbara became immersed in the maritime sector at a time when maritime reporting was almost non-existent. She immediately recognized the magnitude of containerization and a new transportation concept called “globalization,” and was encouraged by her colleagues to develop a maritime beat for the paper. She became the Newark News’ first maritime editor—a move which launched her career, pushed the Port of Newark into the global spotlight, and ignited her lifetime love affair with the industry.

It was also at the Newark News where she would meet her future husband, Joseph Yeninas, an editorial cartoonist and art director at the paper. The two met as co-captains on the picket line during a newspaper strike shortly before the paper folded. They fell in love, and were married in December 1971.

In 1974, Barbara created Barbara Spector Yeninas Associates (BSYA) as the premier voice in maritime and transportation public relations and marketing. Barbara’s integrity, tenacity, and drive were the key to her success at a moment when women were rarely seen on the docks. It wasn’t long before she established an illustrious, international list of clients, which included Pacific Australia Container Express Line (PACE), Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp., Port of Hamburg, Horizon Lines, Global Terminals, INTTRA and Maher Terminals.

Over the course of her career, she became an industry figurehead, and loved bringing people from all corners of the transportation industry together. She served as Executive Director for the Containerization & Intermodal Institute for 35 years, and as the Executive Director of NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association for 18 years. And for almost five decades, she served as event coordinator for the United Seamen Service’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards, an annual black-tie gala which celebrated the leaders of maritime.

But even as her business was advancing, Barbara made time for her personal passions. She traveled all over the world (from Panama to Prague, Hawaii to Hong Kong, and beyond), loved to cook for her family and friends, and was an avid collector of antique posters and art.

Over the course of her lifetime, Barbara and her company won many creative advertising and marketing communications awards. In 2000, she was named New Jersey Businesswoman of the Year by the Girl Scouts of America, and in 2007, was given the honor of being one of the top 50 Businesswomen in New Jersey by NJ Biz Magazine. Then in December 2008, the Containerization & Intermodal Institute awarded her with its Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years of work in the industry.

But what Barbara will be remembered for most of all was her deep commitment to helping, caring for, and lifting those around her. She was always thinking of others—and as good friend and colleague Joe Bonney said, “she just made everyone better.”

She was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph, and her siblings Stanley and Cheryl Spector. She was a proud mother of daughters Joanna Saltz, of Bernardsville, NJ, and Laura Newby, of Granite Bay, CA, and a loving mother-in-law to Scott Saltz and Andy Newby. But her greatest joy was being a doting grandmother to her seven grandchildren, Spencer, Teddy and Everett Saltz, and Zadie, Jones, Isabel and Sam Newby. She is survived by her siblings Martin Spector, Alan Spector and his wife Sarah, and Susie Hauptman and her husband Cliff.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.