Buddy Lee Strieker, an officer of Local 219 (Hannibal, Mo.) for the vast majority of his 24-plus years with our union, died as a result of a switching accident on April 7 in Louisiana, Mo. He was 56 years old.
Brother Strieker was vice local chairperson of LCA-001A and the secretary/treasurer of his local for more than two decades. A trainman/brakeman for BNSF, he also served as an LCA secretary and as a delegate for his local at the Second SMART Transportation Division Convention in 2019.
An investigation has been launched by the National Transportation Safety Board into Brother Strieker’s death with a member of the TD National Safety Team participating.
Brother Strieker was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Lisa; his son, Matthew; a granddaughter; two step-grandchildren; three brothers; two sisters and other relatives.
“Away from work, Buddy loved being outside and visiting the family farm,” his family wrote in Brother Strieker’s obituary. “Buddy had a green thumb and enjoyed working in his garden where he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeños, and banana peppers. A wonderful cook, Buddy made the most delicious cheesecakes, birthday cakes, and soups.”
Tony Wyman, a union brother out of Local 445 (Niota, Ill.) remembered on an online memorial page how he was mentored by Brother Strieker after hiring on as a BNSF conductor.
“Buddy … told me ‘as long as you’re with me you’ll be OK,’ ” Wyman wrote. “I’m heartbroken that he is gone! Buddy had a story or a joke every time he went to work! People of the BNSF family in Quincy lost a legend …and I mean a serious legend!”
The SMART Transportation Division offers its deep condolences to Brother Strieker’s family, friends and to his Local 219 brothers and sisters for the loss of this stalwart and dedicated member of our union.
SMART Transportation Division Local 934 member Curtis A. Deines, 52, a member of our union for more than 20 years, died before dawn on the morning of March 19 after the SUV he was being transported in was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle on U.S. Highway 2 near Ravenna, Neb.
The driver and three other rail workers in the SUV that Deines was riding in were transported for treatment, as was the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, according to the Star-Herald of Scottsbluff, Neb. Deines passed away at the scene of the accident, the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department stated in an accident report.
“He will be greatly missed here in Alliance,” said Local Chairperson Wendie Henderson of the Nebraska local.
Born in Torrington, Wyo., Brother Deines was a hall-of-fame athlete from his time as a center on the Chadron State College football team. He graduated college in 1996 with a degree in education.
He then entered into service with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in the maintenance of way department and then transferred into train service as a conductor.
Great sources of pride and joy for him were watching his son, Colin, and daughter, KayLeah, succeed in life and becoming a grandpa, his family wrote in his obituary.
“Curt was loved by all and will be greatly missed for his big heart and infectious laugh,” his family wrote. “The role Curt played in each of our lives will never be forgotten.”
Brother Deines is survived by his wife, Sonya; his son, Colin Deines, and Colin’s girlfriend, Catie Williams; daughter, KayLeah King, and her husband, Robert; two grandchildren; his parents; his sister, Staci John, and her husband; two nieces; and a number of in-laws and other relatives.
A private memorial service is scheduled for March 27.
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.