The SMART Transportation Division is mourning two union brothers who have died in recent weeks because of COVID-19.
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.”
Condolences also can be sent to Brother Wheeler’s wife:
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.
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.
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.