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Vice Chairperson Debria L. Bradford (GCA-STU), 56, a longtime officer of SMART Transportation Division Local 1704 (Kansas City, Mo.), passed away Jan. 26, 2022.
“She served numerous positions in our local — sergeant of arms, trustee,” said General Chairperson Sharon Harris (GCA-STU). “Debria was instrumental in helping negotiate our last contract. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Services for Sister Bradford will be Feb. 4, 2022, beginning with a 10 to 11 a.m. viewing. Services will immediately follow at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, 11424 Hickman Mills Dr., Kansas City, Mo., 64134
“Our union mourns her passing,” said Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant. “May her memory always be a blessing.”
SMART Transportation Division expresses its condolences to Sister Bradford’s family, friends and her brothers and sisters in Local 1704 whom she proudly served for many years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 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. Read Brother Morstad’s full obituary.
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. Click here to read the full obituary.
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. 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. His full obituary may be read here.
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. Read Patsouras’ obituary.
Former UTU Vice President John L. Easley of Apple Valley, Calif., passed away Aug. 26 at age 87. 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. 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.
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. 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.