Charles “Al” Nowlin, a stalwart supporter of the union through and through and a multiple-term general chairperson for GO-569, passed away unexpectedly April 24. He was 68 years old.
“Al was a true brother to all of us. He was steadfastly dedicated to our cause and that of the labor movement in general,” SMART Transportation Division Vice President Brent Leonard said. “I always admired his kindness and true caring for those he represented and worked for, as well as his tenacious fight against the railroad carrier.”
Brother Nowlin joined the union in December 1973 after hiring on as a fireman for the Missouri Pacific at age 18. A member of Local 349 in Kansas City, he later was promoted to engineer and worked for the carrier’s successor, Union Pacific, for the duration of his career.
Brother Nowlin first became a union officer in his home local in 1978, winning election as a local chairperson. This began four decades of dedicated service as a union officer, eventually leading to his being elected as GO-569 chairperson and serving three terms before his retirement in December 2018.
Leonard recalled a story that Al’s wife, Phyllis, shared that summed up Brother Nowlin’s belief in the organization.
“When Al would meet non-railroad people, upon his telling them that he worked for the railroad, most often their response would be, ‘Wow, the railroad is a great job!’ Al’s response would be,’No, the railroad is a good job, with a GREAT union.’ “
Upon the occasion of his 35th year as a union officer, Brother Nowlin was honored at the 2013 Anaheim Regional Meeting by then-SMART General President Joe Nigro with a clock to recognize his service.
“Al was a man of strong faith and had incredible love for both his family and his union family,” Leonard said.
Brother Nowlin was a delegate to multiple UTU/SMART-TD conventions, a constant donor to TD PAC, served as a special organizer for the union, maintained membership in the SMART-TD Alumni Association and served as a mentor to union leadership while maintaining his labor activism even after his retirement.
“Al will be sorely missed by those who knew him,” Leonard said. “His legacy will be that future railroad employees will continue to be benefited from the work he did on their behalf.”
A celebration of Brother Nowlin’s life will occur Monday, May 15 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 7110 Route 9 Highway, Kansas City, Mo. 64152. Visitation is scheduled 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. with services to follow at 6:30.
A reception of coffee and dessert will follow the service.
The family suggests that in honor of Al’s life and works of service for the betterment of the working men and women across this country that any memorial donations be directed toward the TD PAC.