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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cheryl Sneed, who worked in the office of the United Transportation Union for nearly four decades, including as an executive administrative aide in the President’s Department, passed away on Nov. 25, 2019.
She was 66 years old.
Cheryl started with the UTU in 1975 in the Word Processing Department, then progressed to the Legal Department and Bus and Yardmaster departments. She later handled correspondence and scheduling for former UTU President Mike Futhey and coordinated matters for the Board of Directors and Board of Appeals.
Among her many duties, she also helped to administer the union’s disaster relief fund before retiring in 2014.
A Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 7, 2019 in St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 929 Pearl Road, Brunswick, OH 44212. Inurnment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery 14609 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44142.
Russell “Dale” Hogan, a former general chairperson and retiree of Local 933 (Jefferson City, Mo.), died April 20, 2019, after a battle with cancer. He was 76.
He joined the United Transportation Union (UTU) after hiring on as a fireman for Missouri Pacific in January 1969. He later became an engineer and was elected general chairperson before retiring in July 1999 as a result of a disability.
Russell “Dale” Hogan
“Our years of friendship and working together will always be important entries in my book of memories,” said former UTU President Tom DuBose in an online posting. “Dale remembered that justice is conscience, not just personal conscience, but the conscience of mankind. As I reflect back, Dale was not only an intelligent and amazing person but a giving person who in his own way was always searching for ways to make life better for others.”
Hogan was a Diamond Club member of the union’s political action committee and remained active in the union upon his retirement. Under his leadership, his general committee, which had formerly consisted solely of enginemen, consolidated with conductor, trainmen and yardmen committees to form a stronger group that is now under the umbrella of GO-569.
In July 2004, he was named to a nine-member blue-ribbon committee that looked at the UTU’s structure and offered recommendations on the consolidation and improvement of union operations and remained a member of the UTU/SMART TD Alumni Association.
“What stands out the most is not what he achieved, but how he lived his life,” DuBose said. “He moved through this world with confidence and an unshakeable love for his union and for his family. Dale will be profoundly missed.”
Hogan is survived by his wife of 58 years, Charlotte; daughter Lori; three grandchildren; a great-grandchild and other relatives.
Visitation will be 6 to 7 p.m., with the memorial service and Masonic Rites to follow at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Meadors Funeral Home, 314 N. Main Ave., Republic, MO 65738.