Norman “Norm” Patterson Jr., 52, of Lubbock, Texas, vice local chairperson of LCA-020 and a member of Local 9 (Slaton, Texas), passed away Jan. 5 after a battle with cancer.
A member of our union since 2006, Brother Patterson was a conductor for BNSF, and he had served as a vice local chairperson since 2014.
“He was very involved in his union and was always there to help his fellow brothers,” his family stated in his obituary. “If you were lucky enough for Norm to call you his friend, you were his true friend for life.”
Brother Patterson took great pride in his railroad job, his family wrote.
A memorial gathering to remember Brother Patterson is to occur in July. He is survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Brenda, and two sons, Austin and Tristan. He was preceded in death by his son, Hunter Ryan, who passed away in 2016 as a result of a car accident.
SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Patterson’s family, his brothers and sisters in Local 9, the SMART-TD members he was proud to represent in LCA-020, and to all those who knew him.
Our union lost another member late last month in an accident.
Tyrone Davis, 40, of Local 584 (Meridian, Miss.), passed away the morning of Dec. 23 in Tupelo, Miss., after an on-the-job accident.
Known as “Mr. T” by co-workers, he had been a SMART-TD member since April 2018 and had about 10 years of seniority as a conductor for Kansas City Southern Railroad.
“I trained him — he was a good guy,” Local Chairperson and Secretary & Treasurer Timothy Dallas said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Brother Davis’s death, which occurred after he was riding a tank car. SMART-TD union officers are involved in leading the investigation of the incident.
The fatality was the fourth on-the-job death of a member of our union in 2020.
Brother Davis leaves behind a wife and children. Dallas said that members of the local are donating money to assist Brother Davis’s survivors.
Services are scheduled 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 16, 2021, at Union Star Church Cemetery, 5378 Waverly Road, West Point, MS 39773.
Brother Miguel “Mike” Gaitan, 64, an active SMART Transportation Division member out of Local 1241 (Richmond, Calif.), passed away Friday, December 11, 2020, from COVID-19.
Brother Miguel Gaitan of Local 1241 in Richmond, Calif., passed away Dec. 11 from COVID-19. He was 64 years old.
An engineer with BNSF, he joined our union in February 1995.
“Fellow employees state that Mike was hard-working, respected and kind,” California State Legislative Director Louis Costa said. “He always made railroad get-togethers with his union brothers and sisters a priority.
“Mike was larger than life, his kindness, his funny laugh and his ability to be a leader in the railroad family was not rivaled,” Costa said. “He will be deeply missed.”
Brother Gaitan is survived by his wife, Alice, and four children, Megan, Mike Jr., Santiago and Dolores. He also had two grandchildren.
Services for Brother Gaitan are 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, at Cano Funeral Home, 2164 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Stockton, CA 95205, where flower memorials also may be sent.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to Brother Gaitan’s family, his friends and to all of his brothers and sisters in Local 1241.
David Eldon Hiatt, a retired general chairperson of GO 377 (Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western), passed away November 11, 2020. He was 73 years old.
“I looked up to Brother Hiatt, he was what I strived to be like once I became a union officer,” said current GO 377 General Chairperson Bill Miller. “Brother Hiatt bled union and the SMART-TD.”
Brother Hiatt hired out on the GTW in 1969 in Battle Creek, Mich., and was a lifelong SMART-TD/UTU member. He was the local chairperson for Local 72 (Battle Creek, Mich.) for a number of years, then served as general chairperson for GO 377 from 2003 until his retirement in 2012.
“One of his big accomplishments was being able to get an hourly agreement approved on the GTW, which gave a better quality of life for the conductors with scheduled off days, five-day work week and great wages,” Miller said. “Brother Hiatt was a mentor to many officers on the GTW, especially me.”
Brother Hiatt was an Army veteran, serving in South Korea along the demilitarized zone in 1968 and ’69, and was a VFW and American Legion member.
He is survived by his wife, Kathryn and children Tracy Hiatt, Larry Hiatt, Jeffrey (Shawn) Bowdidge, Owen (Ellie) Bowdidge; and his brother, Thomas (Sheila) Hiatt.
SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Hiatt’s family, friends and to his Local 72 brothers and sisters.
“His wife and kids wanted us to thank you from the bottom of their hearts for your prayers and donations. She is grateful for everything you all have done,” Montero wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We personally wanted to thank everyone for all your donations and help during this time. At the end of the day, we are all a railroad family and unite to help one another out, and during these tough times it has really shown!”
When asked to describe Joe, co-workers shared:
“Joe always would show up to work with a smile and a genuine greeting, so even if you were having a bad day, he always seemed to bring out the best in you.”
Edward J. Carney, 87, of Ft. Wadsworth, Staten Island, N.Y., died suddenly Saturday, Nov. 7.
Carney began his railroading career on the Staten Island Railroad, a subsidiary of the B&O Railroad, in June 1955. Over the course of his 40 years of railroad employment, he worked as a conductor in freight, passenger, yard and road service.
Brother Carney took an interest in union affairs and became the local chairperson of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Lodge 560, representing conductors and trainmen on the Staten Island Railroad, in October 1963. After numerous representation elections on the property, he eventually came to represent conductors, trainmen, engineers, signalmen, maintenance-of-way employees, electricians, boilermakers, machinists, car inspectors and car cleaners. Brother Carney held the position of local chairperson for over 30 years, during which time he became the local chairperson of Local 1440 in Staten Island, N.Y. Carney also served as a local delegate for more than 30 years and attended seven United Transportation Union (UTU) quadrennial conventions.
He also served on the UTU Board of Appeals for two terms from 1992 through 1999. Carney was a member of the union for more than 40 years. Many will remember Brother Carney as the master of ceremonies at numerous UTU regional meetings and conventions. He always had a joke or two prepared at the events and always graced us with his voice to sing both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems. A U.S. Army veteran, Carney always paused at each event he emceed to recognize his fellow brothers and sisters in arms. He retired from his position of master of ceremonies at the close of the 2013 regional meetings in Boston and Anaheim.
Visitation for Brother Carney was Monday, November 9 from 4 – 9 p.m., Tuesday November 10 from 2 – 4 p.m. and 7 – 9 p.m. at the Martin Hughes Funeral Home, 530 Narrows Rd. S., Staten Island, NY 10304. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, November 11 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Charles Roman Catholic Church, 200 Penn Ave., Staten Island, NY 10306, interment will follow at 12:15 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cemetery, 155 Parkinson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305.
Our union is in mourning after losing two of its active members this week: one in a work-related fatality and one in a traffic accident.
Ryan Sandy, 37, a member of Local 662 (Richmond, Va.) and a former local chairperson of LCA-201C, was killed in an on-the-job accident at 2:45 a.m., Monday, Oct. 12 in the Acca Yard in Henrico County, Va.
Sandy had been a member of SMART Transportation Division since February 2009 and worked as a conductor for CSX.
“We are all shocked and saddened by his passing,” fundraiser organizer Michael Carter posted. “It’s now our turn to give back and help his wife and their children as they deal with the loss of their loving husband and father.”
A number of worker fatalities over the past two years involving union workers went without an NTSB-led investigation, a situation that SMART-TD leadership made clear needed to be changed.
Across the country, Local 556 (Tacoma, Wash.) is mourning the loss of one of its officers.
Clayton Hoffman III, general chairperson of GCA-TMB (Tacoma Municipal Beltline) and local chairperson of LCA-TMB1, died in a fatal traffic accident Oct. 9. He was 43 years old.
The circumstances of GC Hoffman’s death are being investigated. He had been a member of the union since April 2004. He became GC on Oct. 1, 2012, and immediately set to work, said current Local 556 President Bill Price.
“During his time, Clayton negotiated one of the best contacts in shortline history for his members and brought those members to a livable wage,” Price said.
Price said that Hoffman served as a fierce representative of his fellow members and will be missed.
Local 556 brother Kody Henderson, local chairperson of LCA-001a, had this to say about his fallen brother:
“He was union leadership powerhouse and a union leader I looked up to. He was there when I initially took office in 2015 and helped guide me through this local chairman position. We would speak often, and as time went on we would reconnect to share stories and discharge stresses of dealing with management to one another.”
Brother Hoffman is survived by his brother, his sister and his mother.
“Clayton will be missed by all here at Local 556,” Price said.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its condolences to the relatives, friends and the brothers and sisters of Locals 662 and 556 on the passing of Brothers Sandy and Hoffman.
The union has received notification in recent weeks of the deaths of three former vice presidents of the United Transportation Union.
Five-term UTU Vice President Peter Patsouras passed away on Thursday, Sept. 10. He was 76 years old.
Joining the union in August 1965, he was elected in 1967 as local chairperson of Local 1825 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected general chairperson of Norfolk & Western’s Wheeling & Lake Erie Division in 1976 and was elected alternate vice president in 1979. He was elevated to UTU vice president upon the retirement of Vice President Jim Burke in June 1982 and was re-elected at the 1983, ’87, ’91,’95 and ’99 UTU conventions, serving as a VP for more than two full decades of union history until his retirement in 2003.
“Pete was a great guy,” said retired SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch. “Not only was he a great union leader, he was the person who started the modern environmental movement.”
Patsouras was present to witness a bit of Northeast Ohio and, by extension, U.S. history on June 22, 1969. As a crew member on the Norfolk & Western train that sparked the infamous Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland, he saw an event that drew national attention and a bit of infamy to the city of Cleveland.
The fire reportedly was caused by a fusee, a long torch resembling an oversized matchstick used by flagmen, that an unidentified crew member had dropped into the river to extinguish. (Media reports described the fire’s cause as a “spark” from a diesel locomotive). Instead of going out, the fusee caught contaminants in the river’s water on fire. The blaze drew national attention from Time Magazine, among others, and was seen as spurring the eventual passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act.
“That was the trigger they needed to clean up the environment. It (the river) was terrible. The oil and all the chemicals that were just thrown in there by a number of businesses, you wouldn’t want to put a finger in for fear of pulling back a stump,” Patsouras said in an interview published in the September 2019 SMART Transportation Division News regarding the fire’s 50th anniversary.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its heart-felt condolences to the families, friends and the local brothers and sisters of these three officers who faithfully served the union for many decades.
G. Thomas DuBose, who served one term as president of the SMART Transportation Division’s immediate predecessor union, passed away on Aug. 20, 2020, after a short illness.
G. Thomas DuBose served as UTU president from 1991 until his retirement in 1995.
DuBose, United Transportation Union (UTU) president from 1991 to 1995, had experienced health complications recently and had been placed in hospice care. He was 85 years old.
“The union extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of former President DuBose,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “His leadership helped to guide our union through a period of great difficulty and transition. As an organization, we all are saddened, and we mourn his loss.”
DuBose assumed the union presidency during a time when great transition was occurring in the use of technology, especially with the establishment of the internet. The union acquired its first mainframe during his administration as UTU made its initial steps toward the computerization of its operations. An email system for the union and an awards database accessible to international officers and general chairpersons was created, and he also oversaw a union restructuring with the consolidation of a number of General Committees, and the establishment of an accident investigation committee. The UTU also joined the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO for the first time during his tenure.
“I feel I left this union in better condition than I found it,” DuBose said in a UTU News article as the union transitioned from his leadership to succeeding President Charles L. Little in 1995.
David Hakey, who worked alongside DuBose during his two campaigns for the union presidency and served as a union vice president from 2000 to 2007, spent more than four decades knowing DuBose personally and professionally. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, DuBose was generous in lending his time and guidance to Hakey who was starting out as a general committee officer. DuBose, even then a longtime vice president, showed Hakey the ropes in writing cases and defending members.
“He was my mentor, and he was my friend,” Hakey said. “He was always a good steward of the union. He always put the union first and the membership first.”
Hakey said DuBose was naturally inclined to put the needs of others ahead of himself, even outside of union business. In one encounter, DuBose and Hakey met a man on the street begging for money. Rather than just giving the man some spare change, DuBose insisted that they take him out to lunch.
“Tom was alway willing to listen,” Hakey said. “He was a compassionate individual. He always tried to put the membership first.”
Carl Cochran, administrator of the SMART TD Alumni Association, remembered DuBose’s active leadership in organizing a team that brought the Florida East Coast Railroad back into the UTU fold and in reaching out to help members in Cochran’s home state of Florida to cope with the devastation of the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“We asked for help from our union, and we got it for our members that lost their homes,” Cochrane said.
Born in Macon, Ga., on March 23, 1935, G. Thomas DuBose hired on as a switchman for the Central of Georgia Railway in October 1955 and was a member of Local 535 in Macon, serving as a local officer there. He was elected vice president of the Switchmens’ Union of North America (SUNA) in 1967 at the age of 32 and retained that office during the formation of the UTU in 1969.
He served four additional terms as a union vice president before being elected the UTU’s assistant president in 1987. At the Sixth UTU Convention in 1991, he defeated then-incumbent UTU President Fred Hardin’s bid for a fourth term. DuBose had unsuccessfully challenged Hardin for the presidency at the prior convention.
“We ran a grassroots campaign,” said Hakey, who managed DuBose’s winning campaign. “instead from the top-down, it was from the bottom up. The membership was desirous of a change and they wanted to see something different.”
The union faced a number of fiscal challenges at the time, Hakey said, and DuBose resolved those during his single term, leaving UTU on better financial footing than before. DuBose also was elected and served as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO TTD.
After his 1995 retirement, the former president continued to maintain an association with the union and lent his support to a tentative national rail contract negotiated in 2011 that won approval.
“After Tom retired, he would sit at the Alumni table at the regional meetings with Kenny Menges or myself,” Cochran said. “Our members would enjoy Tom telling the history of our union.”
Former President G. Thomas DuBose is survived by his two children, Mark DuBose (Margaret), Marty Lee (KD), and three grandchildren, Matthew DuBose, Kristin Lee, and Ben DuBose.
His family thanks SMART General President Joseph Sellers, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and all members, past and present, for their kind words and condolences during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that all donations be made to a charity of their choice. Due to COVID-19, the burial will be a private graveside service on September 9th. To express condolences, please visit https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/macon-ga/g-thomas-dubose-9326937.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its deepest condolences to the DuBose family, his friends and his Local 535 brothers and sisters in their time of loss.