Archive for the ‘Memorial Corner’ Category

Former VP Donald Carver passes away

Former Vice President Donald Carver, who led the United Transportation Union Yardmasters Department from 1987 until his retirement in 2003, passed away January 11, 2022, one day prior to his 79th birthday, his family announced.

Carver

Brother Carver had a 41-year career on the railroad that began when he hired out in April 1962 as a switchman on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. He joined UTU predecessor union the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT) in May 1962 before becoming a yardmaster and an officer in the Railroad Yardmasters of America (RYA), rising to general chairperson and a national vice president in the 1970s in that union before its merger with UTU.

In 1987, Carver was elected UTU assistant to the president/yardmasters and he served in that capacity before being elevated to vice president in 2003. In total, 29 of Carver’s 41 years were as a union officer.

The late Jim “J.R.” Cumby, Brother Carver’s immediate successor in leading the Yardmasters Department, wrote a tribute to Carver in an issue of the UTU News published after Carver’s retirement in September 2003:

“Don was an indefatigable road warrior. When the carriers raised the qualifying days worked to seven for carrier-paid insurance, Don went to bat for our part-time officers. With assistance from the negotiating committee, Don ensured all our part-time officers working on the railroad at least one day per month retained carrier-paid insurance benefits,” Cumby wrote in the November 2003 UTU News.

Carver left “some mighty big shoes” to fill in representing the union’s members, Cumby wrote.

Carver’s role with the union hadn’t closed quite yet. In 2004, he served on a blue-ribbon committee to shape union technological efforts for the union as it headed into the 21st century.

After announcing his retirement, Brother Carver closed his final farewell column to the membership with a traditional Irish blessing:

“May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, And the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dianna Mae, and two children, the Rev. Dr. Richard Carver Jr. (Stephanie) and Marla Sanders (Chris); five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and his brother, David. He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Dr. Edward and Alene Carver, and his sister Beth Ostercamp.

A celebration of Brother Carver’s life will take place 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at Schoppenhorst Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home, 123 Winning Colors Dr., Mt. Washington, Ky. Interment will follow at Bethany Memorial Cemetery, 10917 Dixie Hwy., Louisville.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to the Carver family, his friends and the union brothers and sisters who knew him.

Click here read Carver’s full obituary or to leave condolences.

GC Danny Young passes away unexpectedly

The SMART Transportation Division has been shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of General Chairperson Danny Young (GO-017), a longtime leader in our union and member of Local 1081 (Glendale, Ariz.), on Dec. 31, 2021.

Young

Brother Young was born and raised in Winslow, Arizona. He was an avid athlete, winning a gold medal as a Junior Olympic wrestler and playing college football at Mesa Community College. He went on to graduate from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Science in finance. He followed in his father’s footsteps to have a career with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (now BNSF) and joined the union in April 1995. He was promoted to engineer in 1998.

Young became interested in unionism and became trustee for Local 1081 in 1999, then local chairperson the same year. In 2003, he was elected secretary of BNSF Railway General Committee GO-017 and then re-elected to the post in 2007. Young was elected second alternate vice president-West by delegates at the UTU Convention in 2007 and later was elevated to alternate vice president-West in 2009, the same year that he became a general chairperson. He continued as an alternate vice president for the union until Sept. 30, 2019 and served as a general chairperson for more than 12 years. He was a member of the SMART-TD team in the 2017 national contract negotiations and was a frequent presenter at regional meetings regarding first response in the event of transportation emergencies.

He is survived by his wife, Julie; his mother, Carol Young; his mother-in-law, Kathy Ball; his brother, Mike (Lisa) Young; his brother-in-law, Bobby Ball; his nephews Danny, Jordan, Nathan and Garrett; his great nephew Jace and his dogs Hank and Jake. Preceding him in death was his father, William “Butch” Young, who himself was a general chairperson.

Danny loved to fish and travel the world. He was a lifelong, dedicated fan of the Arizona Cardinals. He was fun-loving, had the biggest personality and a laugh that was one-of-a-kind. He will be missed dearly by his family, friends and colleagues.

Private memorial services for the family will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Brother Young may be made to The Humane Society of the United States.

SMART Transportation Division offers its most sincere and heart-felt condolences to Brother Young’s family, friends and his brother and sisters in Local 1081 and GO-017.

Former General Chairperson Jackie Pearson passes away

Jacqueline “Jackie” Y. Pearson, former general chairperson of GCA-STU and a former local chairperson for Local 1704 (Kansas City, Mo.), passed away Dec. 13, 2021, at the age of 55.

Pearson

Sister Pearson served more than four years in both of those officer positions as well as serving as her local’s trustee for more than a year.

“The SMART-TD Bus Department along with the entire SMART organization mourns her passing,” Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant said. “It was a pleasure working with Jackie, and she will be missed by those who knew her. We pass along our condolences and sympathy to her family and friends. May her memory always be a blessing.”

Visitation is scheduled 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 22, 2021, at Watkins Heritage Chapel, 4000 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64130, with services conducted by Lawrence A. Jones & Sons Funeral Chapel scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 23. Interment will take place in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Online condolences may be left here.

Member of Local 807 dies from COVID-19

Brother Tony Carbajal passed away Oct. 27 from COVID-19.

Brother Tony Carbajal, a member of Local 807 (Tucson, Ariz.), passed away Oct. 27, 2021, from COVID-19 at the age of 51.

He joined the union in 2004 and worked as a conductor for Union Pacific for more than 17 years.

“Tony was well-liked and respected by his co-workers in Tucson,” said Chris Cheely, legislative secretary of the Arizona State Legislative Board and Local 807’s legislative representative.

A talented golfer and softball player, one of Brother Carbajal’s many hobbies was collecting cigars.

He is survived by the love of his life, Patricia; sons Eric, Gregory and Andrew and grandchildren Stephany and Bubba.

An online fundraiser has been established to assist his family in their time of loss.

A Celebration of Life and Rosary will be held noon on Sunday, November 7, 2021, at the Willcox Elks Lodge with a visitation beginning at 11 a.m. Private cremation will follow.

GoFundMe set up for members’ devastated family

James “JP” Melton

Local 904 (Evansville, Ind.) S&T Brian Hall reports that the local has opened a GoFundMe page to support CSX yardmaster and Local 1963 (Louisville, Ky.) member Jason P. Melton and his family after his 13-year-old son tragically took his own life on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Melton’s son, James “JP”, was born July 1, 2008, in Madisonville, Ky., to Jason P. and Joy Morgan Melton. He is survived by his parents; sister, Lillie Melton; brother, Matthew Melton; grandparents, Alan and Kathy Morgan, Steve and Susan Melton; along with many uncles, aunts and cousins. He was preceded in death by his great-grandparents and brother, Christopher Melton.

Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21 at Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, with burial to follow.

Click here to donate via the GoFundMe page.

Click here to leave condolences for the family.

SMART-TD mourns another COVID-19 loss

Terri Poole Taylor Kerns, 52, of Local 1971 (Atlanta, Ga.) lost her life to COVID-19 on Friday, September 10. Diagnosed with COVID-19 on August 24, she was hospitalized Sunday, August 29 with severe chest pains. After suffering from cardiac arrest, she passed in the early hours of Sept. 10.

Kerns

Graduating from high school in 1987, Kerns worked in the food industry before deciding on a career change. She hired out with Norfolk Southern, where she would work for 20 years, earning her engineer and conductor certifications and working her way up to the position of yardmaster.

In her free time Kerns enjoyed family vacations on the beach. Her true passion was spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

“Terri had a great love for her family. Family was everything to Terri, and she left an indescribable imprint on all of us,” her younger sister Joy Poole said.

She’s survived by her husband of 21 years, Paul Henry Kerns Jr. aka PJ; four children, Drew (Sadina) Kerns, Shadonna Kerns, Madison Kerns and Dominique Kerns; two grandsons, Ameer and Zelmeer Kerns; two sisters, Rhonda (James) Poole Farley and Joy (Greg Cowan) Poole; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Kerns is preceded in death by her parents, Oddis Theodore Poole Jr. and Patsy Mitchell Arey; grandparents; mother-in-law, Bonnie Jo Kerns; niece, Mariah Turner; nephew, Andrew Sifford; and great nephew, Xander Tucker.

SMART-TD offers their sincere condolences to all who knew and worked with Kerns, as well as her friends and family.

Click here to leave condolences for the family.

Local 23 member Jaime Garcia-Perez passes from COVID

Jaime Garcia-Perez, 48, a member of our union for more than 15 years out of Local 23 (Santa Cruz, Calif.), passed away Sept. 3 from complications of COVID-19. He was an operator for the Santa Cruz Metro ParaCruz.

Garcia-Perez

“Jaime, who worked at ParaCruz for nearly 17 years, had an unwavering work ethic and the utmost respect from everyone here at Metro. He was an integral part of ParaCruz from Day One,” GCA Vice General Chairperson Nathanael Abrego and General Chairperson James Sandoval said in a letter to membership. “A hard-working man and full of passion, integrity, and respect. When the workday got hard, we leaned heavily on the ‘Jaime Factor’ because he counted as two drivers. He was that good. You can always count on him to ensure our riders got to their destination on time.

“Jaime was loved by all who knew him. He will be missed.”

Brother Garcia-Perez is survived by his wife of 25 years, Dawn; daughter, Madison; and son, Kaden.

An online fundraiser has been established to assist Brother Garcia-Perez’s family.

SMART-TD expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Brother Garcia-Perez and his brothers and sisters of Local 23.

Local 1261 chairperson dies after auto accident

Local 1261 in Atlanta is mourning the loss of a longtime local chairperson. Joshua Allen Morstad, 39, passed away Sunday, July 11, 2021, three days after he was injured in an automobile accident while traveling home from work.

Morstad

Brother Morstad was a loyal member of our union for 20 years, local chairperson of LCA-169A (Central of Georgia) since May 2015 and an engineer for Norfolk Southern.

“Josh was loved, respected, a friend to all, and will be missed by his family, friends and co-workers,” General Chairperson James E. Stewart Jr. of GCA-169 wrote.

Brother Morstad enjoyed being outdoors, hunting, fishing, golf and playing sports with his children. He had a fierce love for his family and always made sure they were cared for. He is survived by his wife, four sons and an unborn son who is due Sept. 7, 2021. Other survivors include his parents, brother and in-laws as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and extended family and friends.

In his last selfless act, Brother Morstad was an organ donor and gave of himself so that others may live.

SMART Transportation Division extends its deepest condolences to Brother Morstad’s family, friends and to Local 1261 in this time of painful loss.

Read Brother Morstad’s full obituary.

Local 807 member killed in transport accident

Middlemas

Brother Karl Middlemas, 62, of Local 807 (Tucson, Ariz.) – a member of our union for more than 13 years – died when the crew van he was being transported in collided with a tractor-trailer late on July 6.

Brother Middlemas hired on in 2007 and most recently served as a conductor for Union Pacific. He had completed his shift July 6 and was en route back to Tucson from Nogales when the van was struck at 11:24 p.m. local time on Interstate 19 south of Tucson. He was killed instantly in the crash.

He enjoyed working on and restoring cars, especially classic Mopars.

Additional details on a memorial will be updated when received.

Services scheduled for Local 113 member Wade Carlisle

Wade Carlisle, a loyal member of Local 113 (Winslow, Ariz.), died in a non-work-related accident May 1 at age 50.

Carlisle

He was a member of our union for six years, and worked as a trainman/brakeman for BNSF.

He was vocal on worker safety issues and participated in an in-depth interview with the Arizona Daily Sun in 2018 regarding train automation and the importance of maintaining two-person crews.

Brother Carlisle ran for political office in 2018, narrowly losing a race for the Arizona State Senate, District 6 seat by a little more than 1,700 votes to a Republican incumbent. He also was a minister, small business owner, a city councilman and most importantly, the husband to Sandy and father to Emma and Abbey.

“Wade was very passionate about selfless service to his community,” Arizona State Legislative Director Scott Jones said. “One of his most-impressive qualities was how he kept a very calming demeanor when talking with constituents about issues they were very passionate about.”

Brother Carlisle is survived by Sandy, his wife of 22 years, his two daughters, his mother; two brothers; and a number of nieces and nephews.

A viewing and services will be 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, at First Baptist Church of Holbrook, Ariz. Interment will be at Burton Cemetery in Show Low, Ariz. at 4 p.m. Donations may be made to Youth For Christ of Holbrook online or by check written to Youth For Christ with 31045 in the memo line which can be given to a YFC leader or Pastor Nathan Heller at the service.

His complete obituary can be read here.

SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to Brother Carlisle’s family and friends and his brothers and sisters of Local 113.

Two TD members pass from COVID-19

The SMART Transportation Division is mourning two union brothers who have died in recent weeks because of COVID-19.

Wheeler

Member Thurman Wheeler, 47, of Local 1348 (Centralia, Wash.) passed away on April 30 after being hospitalized for nearly two weeks with the virus. He was a Union Pacific conductor on the Portland east to Hinkle, Ore., pool.

“Thurman was liked and loved by all, and his loss is being felt very hard here in Portland,” said member Jeff Cubley of Local 1574. “He was an excellent person to work with, and he worked his tail off to provide for his family.”

An online fundraiser has been established for Brother Wheeler’s family by Local 1574 member David Patterson.

Condolences also can be sent to Brother Wheeler’s wife:
Victoria Wheeler
19945 NE Clackamas Court
Portland, OR 97230


SMART Transportation Division Local 225 (Bellevue, Ohio) is mourning the passing of its president, Jason Ruffing, from COVID at age 40 on April 21.

Ruffing

Brother Ruffing was the local’s president for more than six years, served as LCA-687C secretary and was a past trustee of the local. He hired out with Norfolk Southern as a conductor in 2003 and was a certified remote control operator before becoming an engineer.

“Jason was well respected from his peers and the membership,” Local Chairperson Michael Bishop said. “Jason absolutely enjoyed helping anyone whether they needed it or not. He was the type of guy who would drop what he was doing to come help you out at any time. Jason will be missed dearly by his railroad brothers and sisters. Godspeed, Jason.”

President Ruffing loved to cook and grill during the local’s annual picnic, and never shared the secret ingredients of his special recipe spice mix.

A favorite pastime was camping at Tall Timbers campgrounds in Port Clinton, Ohio, and he taught CCW classes in his spare time, his obituary stated.

He served as a volunteer firefighter in Willard and Attica, was a supporter of Second Amendment rights and of the rights and freedoms we all have as Americans.

Brother Ruffing is survived by his parents, sisters, brothers and a number of other relatives.

Click here to leave condolences for the Ruffing family.


The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of Brother Wheeler and Brother Ruffing, to their union brothers and sisters in Locals 1348 and 225 and to all those who knew them.

Buddy Strieker, S&T of Local 219, dies in at-work accident

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.