Gregg B. Weaver, a retired member of SMART-TD Local 898 who rode with former Vice President Joe Biden many times during the longtime senator’s commute from Delaware to Washington D.C., was featured in a video presented Monday, Aug. 17, during the first night of the Democratic National Convention.
In the video, the former vice president’s respect and empathy toward the SMART members who served him as he traveled on Amtrak were highlighted.
“I think he’s most comfortable around everyday, working-class people,” Weaver said. “He makes you feel like you belong.”
SMART-TD member Gregg Weaver, right, introduces Vice President-elect Joe Biden at the Wilmington, Del., Amtrak station in January 2009.
Another instance of Biden’s concern came after he heard that Weaver had had a heart attack, Weaver recalled in the video.
“I was in a barber shop in New York City and the phone rings,” Weaver said. “And sure enough, it’s Vice President Biden asking how I’m doing — wanted to know the whole story. Kind of funny that you’re talking to the Vice President of the United States, but if I would have told the people in the barber shop, I don’t think they would have believed me.
“I’m not saying like it was me and I’m anything special. Everyone was special to him. We have heroes all over this country … the average guy is important to him.”
Donald “Donnie” Wheaton Jr., 62, died unexpectedly Saturday, Jan. 19.
Hiring out with the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad – now Keolis – Wheaton served as a conductor. He was a 42-year employee.
Wheaton became a member of the United Transportation Union Local 898 (Boston, Mass.) in July 1979. He served his union as local chairperson (LCA 769B) – a position he’d held since November 1998; local delegate (April 2004 – present); local legislative representative (April 2004 – present); and New England legislative vice chairperson (2004 to 2012). He was elected to the position of alternate New England legislative director and began serving in May 2016.
“Donald was the very definition of selfless, giving many hours of his time as a local officer and later as an officer on the New England Legislative Board to serve and protect our members,” SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said. “His two decades as a devoted leader in Local 898 made his brothers and sisters safer and our union stronger.
“His counsel and presence will be sharply missed. He was an excellent officer, a good friend and a shining example of what it means to be a union member. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his wife, Kathleen, his friends and relatives, and Local 898 in Boston. Donald will be sincerely and deeply missed at all levels of SMART Transportation Division.”
David Scorey, CEO of Keolis, also offered condolences.
“He was passionate about his role and dedicated himself to ensuring employees’ voices were heard,” Scorey said. “A true gentleman, Donnie was always working for the good of the railroad and the benefit of his colleagues. He will be very sorely missed.
“Our heartfelt condolences are extended to Donnie’s family and friends.”
As a tribute to Wheaton, a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots and a season-ticket holder, the MBTA announced that it was renaming the identifying name of the interlocking near Foxboro, home of the Patriots, to Wheaton from the previous identifier “GOAT.”
Wheaton is survived by Kathleen; niece Jill Mullen and her husband Nicholas Machado and their children, Hayden and Cameron; a sister, Donna (Michael) Furman; sister-in-law Patricia (Edward) Meyertholen; brother-in-law Robert (Charlotte) Mullen; nieces Andrea Meyertholen, Kristin (Nick) Favela, Sarah Mullen; nephew Rob Mullen; aunts Peggy (Kenny) Bukoski and Mary Jane Mahoney; uncle William Wheaton; and many other aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and his railroad brothers and sisters.
Family and friends may visit at the McDonald-Finnegan Funeral Home, 322 Main St., Stoneham, MA 02180 on Thursday, Jan. 24 from 4 – 8 p.m. A funeral will be 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25 at McDonald-Finnegan Funeral Home with a funeral Mass to follow at 9 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, 71 Central St., Stoneham, MA 02180. Interment will be at the Lindenwood Cemetery in Stoneham.
SMART TD extends condolences to the family, friends, Local 898 and all who knew Wheaton.
Click here to view Wheaton’s official obituary and to leave condolences.
General Chairperson Roger Lenfest (Amtrak, GO 769), age 65, died July 10 following a short illness.
Lenfest, of Sicklerville, N.J., succeeded Al Suozzo as general chairperson following Suozzo’s death in March 2010.
Assistant General Chairperson Dirk Sampson becomes acting general chairperson for GO 769. Suozzo had held the post almost 18 years.
A member of UTU Local 898 (Boston), and a native of Vermont, Lenfest held UTU membership since March 1971. Earlier in his UTU officer career, Lenfest was a general chairperson on Boston & Maine (now part of Pan Am Railways).
GO 769 represents UTU conductors and assistant conductors on Amtrak (New York City south to Washington, D.C., and on non-Northeast Corridor Amtrak passenger trains nationwide), as well as on Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, Virginia Railway Express, South Florida Tri-Rail and Los Angeles MetroLink.
In March, Lenfest and Sampson led negotiations with MBCR that resulted in a ratified agreement, and in May Lenfest led successful negotiations toward a new ratified agreement with South Florida Tri-Rail.
Most recently, Lenfest has been negotiating with Amtrak for a new agreement on wages, benefits and work rules. Sampson will succeed Lenfest at the negotiating table, joining General Chairperson Bill Beebe (Amtrak, GO 663) to lead those talks with Amtrak. UTU International Vice President John Previsich will continue to assist in those Amtrak negotiations.
Lenfest is survived by his wife, Debra, two sons, six brothers, a sister and three grandchildren.
Prayer service at noon Tuesday, July 19, with a calling time from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ingersoll-Greenwood Funeral Home, 1201 Central Ave., North Wildwood, N.J. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials in his name to the Our Lady of Angels Church, 35 E. Mechanic Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210.