Archive for the ‘Memorial Corner’ Category

SMART-TD mourns the passing of Edward J. Carney

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.

Click here to read Brother Carney’s official obituary.


Two members lost in accidents

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.

Sandy

An online fundraiser has been established for his family at www.GoFundMe.com. Brother Sandy leaves behind his wife and best friend, Kate; and his children, Jayden, Shannon, Kasen, Jasper and Henry.

“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.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into Brother Sandy’s death, marking a change brought about by the insistence of SMART-TD safety leaders.

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.

Hoffman

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.

Retired GC Gary Babiarz passes away

Babiarz

Gary F. Babiarz, a member of SMART Transportation Division for more than 45 years and retired general chairperson of GCA-449 (Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, passed away Sept. 23, 2020, at age 66.

Brother Babiarz joined the union in January 1974 and was a GC from 2015 to 2019.

He is survived by his wife, Judith Kurtz.

Visitation is scheduled 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 3 at Michaels Funeral Home, 800 S. Roselle Road, in Schaumburg, Ill., with funeral services beginning at 4 p.m.

Visit this link to leave condolences.

Retired UTU vice presidents Patsouras, Easley and Pearl pass away

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.

Patsouras

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.

Read Patsouras’ obituary.


Former UTU Vice President John L. Easley of Apple Valley, Calif., passed away Aug. 26 at age 87.

Easley

A veteran of the Korean War, Easley joined the union in August 1961 and was a member of Local 811 in San Bernardino, Calif.

Easley was elected a local chairman in the early 1960s, became a general chairperson in the 1970s was elected a UTU vice president in 1983 before his retirement in 1995.

A memorial web page for Brother Easley is available to leave condolences.


Willard Pearl, 86, of Pueblo, Colo., a former vice president of the United Transportation Union, passed away on Aug. 24.

Pearl joined the union in September 1956 and was a switchman on the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad from 1957-1971.

Pearl

He was Local 204’s (Pueblo, Colo.) chairperson from 1962-1971. He then was elected general chairperson and served in that capacity from 1972-1983.

He served as a vice president from 1984 to 1995, when he retired.

After retirement, Pearl continued to donate to the union’s political action committee as a platinum level contributor.

Brother Pearl was also a member of the local Masons, Eagles, and Elks Lodge.

He is survived by his wife, Donna; two daughters; two stepchildren; two grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

His full obituary is available here.

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.

UPDATED: Former President G. Thomas DuBose passes away

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.

Local 1607 member Wilfredo Corsino passes from COVID-19

General Chairperson John Ellis (Los Angeles County MTA) reports that Brother Wilfredo Corsino, a member out of Local 1607 (Los Angeles, Calif.), passed away on June 11 from COVID-19 complications.

Corsino

Brother Corsino was 65 years old.

“Brother Corsino has been a part of our Union UTU/SMART since 1996,” Ellis said. “He was a 23-year veteran and a consistent supporter of the Union cause.”

Corsino began his career with LACMTA and worked out of Divisions 7, 10, and 13.

“On a personal level, many operators remember Brother Corsino’s infectious laugh and his love for Metro,” Ellis said. “Many of his co-workers stated that he was a great ping-pong and pool player.”

Brother Corsino is the eighth active member of the SMART Transportation Division reported to the union as having passed away from the novel coronavirus.

The union offers its sincere condolences to Brother Corsino’s family and friends and his union brothers and sisters at Local 1607.

Joseph F. Szabo, father of former FRA administrator, passes away

Joseph F. Szabo, of Munster, Ind., and formerly of Riverdale, Ill., a retired member of Local 1299 (Chicago, Ill.) passed away Friday, June 12, 2020.

Szabo

An Army Air Corps veteran, Brother Szabo was a loving husband, father and grandfather and retired with 39 years of service as a switchman for the Illinois Central Railroad, where he served as secretary/treasurer and as chaplain for his local. His drive to provide for his family often led him to hustle second jobs: He sold autos at Ford dealerships, owned gas stations, worked at the Chicago Board of Trade, worked at Republic Steel, and ran a small business installing TV antennas.

But it was the camaraderie of railroading he loved and he remained close with former co-workers in retirement, particularly through the Dolton Elks.

Joseph was an avid lover of his afternoon martini, Big Band music and dancing, and his Chicago sports. He had a lifelong passion for the Chicago Cubs and loved taking his family to Wrigley Field. As an uncle, he was very close with his nieces, nephews and their families, and loved large family gatherings where he shared love, wisdom, stories and his wonderful sense of humor.

In retirement he served as a volunteer tax preparer for AARP, a volunteer Village Inspector in Riverdale, Ill., as a member of the Chicago South Suburban Mass Transit District Board and as chaplain for the Dolton Elks. Active in community theater earlier in his life, he enjoyed singing in the chorus at the Hartsfield Village Retirement Community.

He is survived by his loving children, Jo Carol (Thomas, dec) Clark, Susan (Richard) Stables, Peggy Szabo, former Federal Railroad Administrator and Illinois State Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo (Local 120, Chicago, Ill.) and Clark (Diana) Szabo; and his precious grandchildren Carly Szabo, Megan Stables, Tori Szabo and Natalie Szabo.

Brother Szabo was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Shirley; sisters Margaret Barber and Rose Stapleton; and his parents, Joseph and Theresia Szabo, who emigrated from Burgenland, Austria.

A funeral service will be held 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 at Solan Pruzin Funeral Home, 14 Kennedy Ave., Schererville, Ind. Friends may visit with the family 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Calumet Area or the Chicago Lighthouse.

SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Szabo’s family, his friends, Local 1299 and all who knew him.

Retired Local 1532 officer DeBaun passes away

William “Bill” J. DeBaun, a retiree from SMART Transportation Division Local 1532 and a former vice chairperson and legislative representative for the Kansas City, Kan., local, passed away late last month.

Brother DeBaun was 73 years old.

A yardman out of Argentine Yard in Kansas City, in addition to his service to Local 1532’s membership, Brother DeBaun also worked as a new hire training coordinator, helping those workers just starting out on the Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe Railway/BNSF. Many of those he had trained later asked about how Brother DeBaun and his wife of 34 years, Carol, were doing after his retirement from the railroad in 2005.

His work as vice local chairperson was “invaluable” to the members of LCA 1532, said SMART-TD Vice President Joe M. Lopez.

“Bill spent countless hours researching and processing time claims on behalf of the membership. Much of that work was done on his accord, without the members having to spend a second of their own time writing up the claim(s), while Bill sacrificed countless hours each month of his own time securing monies on their behalf,” Lopez said. “Bill was also an effective legislative representative for Local 1532. Bill’s efforts at taking on the carrier for safety violations were very effective.”

Lopez said that as a local chairperson, he and his predecessor, Doug Schlosser, benefited greatly from DeBaun’s impeccable organizational skills, as did the members who had their claims paid out.

“I believe I can safely speak on Doug’s behalf when I say both of us were extremely lucky to have worked with Bill. During our many years of working together, on the second Wednesday of every month, Bill and I would attend our regularly scheduled claims conference with local management and at the onset of each of those conferences Bill would hand me a large stack of claim dockets neatly organized and with an abundance of supporting documentation, which more often than not, led to a successful conference,” Lopez said. “The quality of Bill’s work as both a vice local chairperson and legislative representative has been unmatched and likely never will be. Bill made me a better local chairperson.”

Brother DeBaun was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is survived by his wife, Carol, nephews John & Shawn Strange and a number of other relatives.

SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to his family, his Local 1532 union brothers and sisters and all who knew Brother DeBaun.

His full obituary is available here.

First TD member fatality from COVID-19 reported

Joseph Hansen, a conductor out of Local 60 (Newark, N.J.) who worked for New Jersey Transit (NJT), passed away recently to become the first reported active SMART Transportation Division member to succumb to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

Joseph Hansen, a 20-year SMART Transportation Division member out of Local 60 (Newark, N.J.), passed away from COVID-19. Photo via New Jersey Transit/the Hansen family.

Hansen was 62 years old and had been a SMART-TD member since November 1999. He worked out of NJT’s Raritan Yard.

“Brother Hansen’s 20 years of service was exemplary. He was the consummate professional, a loving husband, father and grandfather,” said General Chairperson Jerome Johnson (GCA-610), who is president of Local 60. “He will be greatly missed.”

Brother Hansen is survived by his wife, Denise; a son, Brian, who is a mechanic at Raritan Yard; and his grandchildren.

SMART-TD offers sincere condolences to Brother Hansen’s family and friends and to his brothers and sisters of Local 60, who continue to put their safety on the line as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read an article from Northjersey.com about Brother Hansen’s passing.

Northjersey.com also reported that the carrier gave an update on the effects of COVID-19 on NJT’s 12,000-person workforce:

  • 87 NJ Transit employees have tested positive for coronavirus
  • Of those, 57 were operating buses, trains or cleaning stations
  • 571 employees are in quarantine as a precaution or awaiting test results
  • 159 employees have returned to work after being cleared

SMART-TD represents NJT’s rail workforce.

Two TD members lose children in tragic incidents

Two SMART Transportation Division members and their local union brothers and sisters are in mourning after two sudden and untimely deaths.

Joey Trianders Allen

Local 1565 member Laura Corley lost her son, Joey Trianders Allen, 43, of Lancaster, Calif., after police said a wrong-way driver slammed into his vehicle on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles early Sunday, Feb. 16.

The driver suspected of being drunk behind the wheel in the crash that killed Allen has been charged with murder and a number of other counts associated with the crash. Services for Allen took place March 7.

In Michigan, the family of Grand Elk Railroad employee and SMART-TD Local 313 Local Chairperson Todd Vaughn is mourning the death of Vaughn’s daughter, Alison Sargent, 25.

The body of Sargent, the mother of two daughters from Pennfield Township, Mich., was found Saturday, March 7, after she had been reported missing last Thursday.

Alison Sargent

A GoFundMe account was established to assist the family and Sargent’s children by a family friend.

No suspects have been identified in Sargent’s death, and police are continuing to investigate her death as a homicide.

SMART-TD expresses its deepest sympathies to both Sister Corley and Brother Vaughn in this time of unimaginable loss to them and to their families.

Former Bus Department Vice President Deiser passes away

Richard Deiser, a former Bus Department director and union vice president, died Feb. 28. He was 79 years old.

Richard Deiser, a former Bus Department vice president, passed away Feb. 28 at age 79.

“Rich was a great union brother who will be sorely missed by those who had the pleasure to work with him,” SMART Transportation Division Vice President Calvin Studivant said. “We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his wife and kids as well as all his loved ones.”

Deiser, of Dumont, N.J., was born July 2, 1940, in Bronx, N.Y. After high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served for eight years while also attending the University of Maryland at the same time, taking extension courses.

After his discharge from the service, he worked for many years with Trans World Airlines in the air freight, meteorology and crew scheduling departments.

He began his career as a bus operator with Rockland Coaches in 1983. Immediately active in the affairs of his local, Deiser was appointed shop steward in 1985 and elected secretary in 1988. In 1998 he was elected as general chairperson of Local 1558, Bergenfield, N.J. He was re-elected three times to that position and also attained the offices of delegate and legislative representative.

After serving for six years as alternate vice president-bus-East, Deiser was elevated to vice president and director of the Bus Department in July 2009.

He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2011.

Brother Deiser is survived by his wife of 56 years, three children, five grandchildren, a great-grandson and a number of brothers and sisters.

Family and friends are welcome to celebrate Richard’s life from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Frech-McKnight Funeral Home, 161 Washington Ave., Dumont, NJ 07628. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 3 at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Dumont. Donations in Deiser’s memory and in lieu of flowers may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, KS 66675-8516.

SMART Transportation Division expresses its condolences to Brother Deiser’s family, friends and his brothers and sisters out of Local 1558.

Read the full obituary.

UPDATED w/services: General Chairperson T.K. Vanwinkle passes away

General Chairperson Thomas K. Vanwinkle (GO 919 — Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis) unexpectedly passed away February 3, 2020. A career railroader, Brother Vanwinkle worked on TRRA as a trainman from 2003 until present. Prior to working at TRRA, Brother Vanwinkle worked as a trainman on both Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern. He was 44 years old.

SMART-TD Vice President-elect David Wier Jr., left, offers his congratulations to T.K. Vanwinkle on Sept. 18, 2019, moments after Vanwinkle was elected general chairperson of GO-919.

Brother Vanwinkle was a longstanding officer of SMART-TD Local 469, serving as legislative representative from 2004 until 2019 and local chairperson from 2008 until 2019. In addition, Brother Vanwinkle served as general chairperson of GO 919 from October 1, 2019, until February 3, 2020.

On the subject of Brother Vanwinkle’s untimely passing, SMART-TD Vice President David Wier Jr. offered the following remarks:

“T.K. was a great man. He was a deeply devoted family man, who unconditionally loved his wife, Kim; his sons, Copelan, Jonathan, and Justin; his daughters, Dailyn and Kaylee; and his mother, Jeannie,” Wier said. “T.K. was a strong-willed union representative, and he always put the best interest of the membership at the forefront. T.K.’s legacy as a strong labor advocate, a dedicated family man and a caring and compassionate person will carry on. He will be sorely missed. T.K.’s tragic passing is both devastating and difficult to comprehend.”

A celebration of Brother Vanwinkle’s life will begin at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 1111 E Hwy 50 in O’Fallon, Ill., with Rev. Skip Leininger officiating.

SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother Vanwinkle’s family and to all who knew him.

His full obituary can be read here.