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In memoriam: former BLET leaders Knorek, Kertesz

(Left to right) John "Sonny" Kertesz and Daniel Knorek
Photo – BLET


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) this week announced the deaths of two former district leaders: Daniel Knorek and John "Sonny" Kertesz.

Knorek, the former general chairman of the CSX Northern Railroad Lines General Committee of Adjustment, died April 1. He was 71, according to a BLET press release.

Knorek was hired in June 1966 as a fireman on the Toledo, Ohio, division of the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He got involved with the union in 1967 in the former fireman's union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen. He joined BLET Division 876 on May 1, 1969, when the BLF&E merged with several other rail Brotherhoods to form the United Transportation Union .

In May 2018, Knorek celebrated 49 consecutive years of Brotherhood membership. He earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 1970 and worked in road service between Toledo and Cincinnati and Willard, and also in yard service in the former B&O Rossford Yard. He worked much of his operating years in the former C&O Walbridge Yard after the 1968 consolidation of the Toledo Terminal and the creation of the Chessie System and then CSX.

Over his long rail career, Brother Knorek was instrumental in helping negotiate some of the many consolidation agreements in the Toledo area and in the states of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. He retired in May 2013.

Knorek is survived by his wife, Cheryl, two children and three grandchildren.

Kertesz died Feb. 18 after battling cancer. He was 79. He started his railroad career with the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1962, joining BLET Division 157 on Jan. 1, 1971.

He became a Conrail employee in the 1976 merger of seven northeastern railroads, and was elected local chairman of Division 157 in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1983. In May 1986, he was elected alternate district chairman of Seniority District G of the Conrail General Committee of Adjustment. He became district chairman in August 1986.

Kertesz was re-elected in 1989, a position he held until the Conrail District F chairman and District G chairman positions were combined, at which time he flowed back to exercise his seniority in the craft at New Jersey Transit, where he worked until his retirement in 2002. Kertesz transferred his BLET membership several times over the years, retiring as a member of Division 171 in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2002.

Kertesz is survived by his wife, Mary Ann; a daughter and grandchildren.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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