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6/10/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

UTU co-founder Gilbert dies in Arizona


On June 5, retired former president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen (BLF&E), and United Transportation Union co-founder H.E. Gilbert died in Sun City, Ariz. He was 96.


In 1969, Gilbert formed UTU with Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen President Charles Luna, Switchmen's Union of North America President Neil Speirs, and Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen President Clyde Lane.


Gilbert, Speirs and Lane became assistant presidents of UTU, while Luna served as international president. In 1971, Gilbert — who also served as presiding officer of UTU's board — retired.


"Ed helped to put this organization together by combining operating crafts while maintaining the autonomy of those crafts," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr. in a prepared statement "Ed was a personal friend and mentor. I shall miss him."


In 1925, Gilbert began his rail career with Santa Fe Railroad, where he served in the signal and engine-service departments. In 1926, he joined Chicago & Alton Railroad, serving first as a locomotive fireman and as an engineer beginning in 1935. Gilbert became a BLF&E member in 1927.


With the union, he served as a local grievance committee chairman, legislative officer, general grievance committee secretary-treasurer, Illinois Legislative Board executive member and Grand Lodge general organizer. In 1947, Gilbert was elected vice president, and in 1953, president.


He was on a first-name basis with five U.S. presidents, appeared on the cover of Time magazine's July 26, 1963, issue and appeared on "Meet the Press" the same year. In 1969, Gilbert received the Eugene V. Debs Award in honor of his labor and humanitarian accomplishments.


He is survived by a daughter, four grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. Gilbert's wife of 77 years, Alice Marie, died March 16.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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