The life of Local 821 Trustee Robert Zavala Jr. was cut short after a fatal car accident April 19, and an online fundraiser has been created to help his family.

Brother Zavala joined the union in 2018 and began as a member of Local 756 in San Antonio before transferring to Local 821 (Del Rio, Texas). He had taken his first local officer position as a Local 821 trustee at the beginning of this year and worked as a conductor for Union Pacific.

“He was well-respected and a good union brother — always willing to help,” Alt. Vice President and General Chairperson Scott Chelette said.

An online fundraiser has been established for the family of Local 821 Trustee Robert Zavala, center, who died as a result of a car accident on April 19.

Brother Zavala’s wife, son and daughter also were in the vehicle during the family’s accident. His wife and son were treated and released from the hospital while daughter Pilar faces a series of surgeries and a long path to recovery.

Please contribute if able as members of Brother Zavala’s family try to heal from their injuries and the loss of a beloved father and husband.

Details about services and a full obituary will be shared when made available.

SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother Zavala’s family, friends and to his brothers and sisters in Local 821.

Dexter Perkins

An online fundraiser has been set up for the survivors of Dexter Perkins, a member of Local 171 (Aurora, Ill.), after he was slain in an act of violence Dec. 22 in Wheaton, Illinois.

Brother Perkins, 37, had been a member of our union since September 2022 and worked as a conductor for BNSF before his death.

He leaves behind two daughters, Brynn and Blair, and his mother as well as his brothers and sisters in Local 131.

To contribute, please follow this link.

“I’m sure anyone who knows Dexter will agree we were all truly blessed to call him our friend, and the amount of lives he touched is insurmountable,” wrote friend David Killingsworth, who organized the fundraiser. “The family he’s left behind has been shaken to their core.”

Visitation is scheduled 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 5 at Lighthouse Church Cook County, 4501 W. 127th St., Alsip, IL 60803 with services immediately following from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

Burial will take place in Glenwood, Illinois. 

A celebration of Brother Perkins’ life will occur Jan. 7 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Piazza Aurora, 85 Executive Dr, Aurora, IL, 60504. For information, visit the After Life Chicago website.

SMART-TD expresses its sincere condolences to Brother Perkins’ family, friends and all who knew him.

As a union, we are reaching out to request your support of one of our brothers in his moment of need. Brother Greg Nunez from SMART-TD Local 898 (Boston, Mass.) has been a SMART-TD member for over nine years.

He works as a conductor for Keolis in commuter service. More importantly, Nunez has a young family at home in the Greater Boston area, and the circumstances surrounding a kidney and pancreatic transplant surgery have him stranded in Orlando, Florida away from his two beautiful children and his family support network.

Conductor Greg Nunez poses for a photo with a young patient during a hospital visit. Brother Nunez of Local 898 in Boston is contending with his own health problems and his family is asking for assistance.

After years of hoping and waiting for that call, Greg had the good fortune of being paired with a donor of a kidney and pancreas that was compatible. The only problem was that the donor was in Orlando, Florida, 1,293 miles away from Boston.

Initially, this meant an insignificant 2 1/2-hour flight. Unfortunately for Brother Nunez, this surgery that was the key to unlocking a long and productive future with his family has taken a turn for the worse, and he is stranded in Orlando in need of funds to pay for a Med-Flight back to Massachusetts.

Post-surgery, Brother Nunez suffered a stroke due to the effects his life-long battle with diabetes has had on his body. He has subsequently undergone seven surgeries and is currently on machines to assist his breathing.

His wife, Katherine, has been with him in Florida for an extended period, but the strain of being with her recuperating spouse in Orlando while raising a family in Boston is as expensive as it is exhausting.

SMART-TD is asking that you consider donating to Nunez’s GoFundMe account and help Katherine get our brother back to Boston where family, friends and Local 898 can help support Greg’s family while he focuses on beginning his long path to recovery.

An online fundraiser has been established for the family of Local 1730 (Richmond, Calif.) member Charles F. “Chuck” Reiring, who passed away suddenly Dec. 14 at age 41.

Brother Charles F. “Chuck” Reiring passed away Dec. 14, 2021, at age 41. He is survived by his daughter, Dixie (pictured), his wife and son Charles III.

Brother Reiring joined our union in January 2018 and worked as a conductor for BNSF.

Fellow SMART-TD member Gary Brunt Jr. of Local 1544 (Maywood, Calif.) has established a memorial fund on GoFundMe in memory of Brother Reiring, with whom Brunt had trained when both hired on as BNSF conductors.

“There wasn’t a time he didn’t speak of how much he would want for his daughter, son, or wife, Angie to have. He will forever be remembered for his sacrifice, duty, and love for his family,” Brunt wrote.

Brother Reiring is survived by his wife of 18 years, Angie Vierra; his daughter, Dixie; and his son, Charles III.

Click here to visit the online fundraiser.

Michelle Mitchell

August 31st was a day that would forever change the lives of member David Mitchell (Local 937 in Mart, Texas) and his family. It was the day that he would come home with a diagnosis of COVID-19. By September 7, Mitchell’s wife, Michelle, would begin to show symptoms, and on September 13, she was hospitalized with severe COVID pneumonia. By Sept. 14, all four of the Mitchell kids had been diagnosed as well.  

Although David and his kids recovered quickly from COVID-19, Michelle did not. Her health continued to decline and on Oct. 5, she had to be intubated.  

“Oct. 6th after picking up my son from Timberview High School following an active shooter at his school, as if I wasn’t under enough stress already, I walked into my wife’s ICU room and touched her leg and her heart stopped,” David said. “Michelle was revived, and shortly after that her kidneys failed and her liver failed.” 

Although Michelle’s breathing slowly began to improve, other parts of her did not. The doctors took her off of sedation for three days, but she did not wake up. The doctors then decided to run a CT scan and MRI on both sides of her brain and discovered that Michelle had had multiple strokes on both sides. 

David reports that Michelle’s organs are back in working order and that she is recovering slowly. The strokes have caused left-side paralysis and her motor skills have been affected as well. Her largest hurdle is learning to walk again at the rehab facility. 

“She still is extremely weak and has paralysis on her left side and needs lots of rehab to get all of her motor skills back. And that’s a fight she’s ready to take on headfirst,” David said. 

Alternate Vice President and GCA-927 General Chairperson Scott Chelette, who brought Brother Mitchell’s situation to SMART-TD’s attention, has gotten together with local chairpersons to provide Christmas gifts for David’s children. 

“Brother Mitchell was especially appreciative of the fact that the International and the President’s office cared enough to want to help in any way they could. I explained to him that this is what an organization should do for each other, and he and every other member will see us getting back to that way of thinking,” Chelette said. 

Local 569 Local Chairperson Lawrence Perkins is collecting Christmas gifts for the family. Gifts can be mailed to Perkins at 412 Rocky Creek Drive, Mansfield, Texas, 76063-8800. Brother Mitchell has three boys — ages 6, 9, and 16; and one daughter, age 14. 

During this time, Brother Mitchell has been off work just trying to take care of his family. As a result, finances are tight with him not working, coupled with hospital and rehab bills. A GoFundMe has been set up by David to help the family during this difficult time. Click here to donate. 

A union sister is trying to help the most important woman in her life receive the care she needs after two devastating strokes.

Local 1558 member Jenell Rose, left, stands with her mom, Kecia Jordan, president of Local 1558, in this photo that was taken prior to Sister Jordan’s strokes.

Member Jenell Rose of Local 1558 (Bergenfield, N.J.) has started an online fundraiser after her mother Kecia Jordan, the president of Local 1558, had a pair of strokes.

The medical crisis began when Sister Jordan, 51, caught COVID-19 and was unable to work for Rockland Coaches.

“Within a few days of her diagnosis, COVID-19 caused her to have a stroke,” said General Chairperson Richard Finley (GCA-RCL).

Sister Jordan was hospitalized as a result of the first stroke and was receiving care when she had a second stroke. She has been in recovery ever since and three weeks ago entered a rehabilitation facility, Finley said.

“Kecia has been a valued member of our local. Fortunately, she is starting to recover,” Finley said. “She is learning how to do all the basic stuff that we have taken for granted in our lives. Due to this medical condition, this has devastated her financially.”

Sister Jordan not only is a local president. She works with Finley as GCA secretary and is also secretary for LCA RCL1. Most importantly, she’s an inspiration and guiding light for her daughter and fellow union member.

“She is an amazing woman, the biggest heart and forever my number one supporter. I would do anything to have my mother back to her normal self,” Sister Rose wrote on GoFundMe. “I know everything takes time so I’m here for anything & everything she needs. We as the family are doing the best we can to maintain all that she has as well as fixing her home so she’s able to recover as best and fast as possible.”

If able to help, please donate via GoFundMe.

James “JP” Melton

Local 904 (Evansville, Ind.) S&T Brian Hall reports that the local has opened a GoFundMe page to support CSX yardmaster and Local 1963 (Louisville, Ky.) member Jason P. Melton and his family after his 13-year-old son tragically took his own life on Sunday, Oct. 17.
Melton’s son, James “JP”, was born July 1, 2008, in Madisonville, Ky., to Jason P. and Joy Morgan Melton. He is survived by his parents; sister, Lillie Melton; brother, Matthew Melton; grandparents, Alan and Kathy Morgan, Steve and Susan Melton; along with many uncles, aunts and cousins. He was preceded in death by his great-grandparents and brother, Christopher Melton.
Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21 at Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, with burial to follow.
Click here to donate via the GoFundMe page.
Click here to leave condolences for the family.

John Pohle is surrounded by his family in this photo. Brother Pohle was critically injured in an at-work accident April 30.

Brother John Pohle, vice president of Local 17 (Marshalltown, Iowa), passed away in the hospital on May 25, 2021, nearly a month after he suffered a critical injury while working April 30 in Union Pacific’s Marshalltown Yard.
Brother Pohle, a member of the union for more than 13 years and a local officer since 2012, had been in a medically-induced coma in the weeks since the accident amputated his right leg.
LCA-953B had established an online fundraiser for Pohle, his wife and their three sons after Brother Pohle’s injury. That fundraiser remains open to continue to assist them in this time of devastating loss.
Follow this link to contribute to the fundraiser on GoFundMe for Brother Pohle.
The SMART Transportation Division extends its deepest condolences to Brother Pohle’s family, his friends and especially his brothers and sisters of Local 17, which he helped to lead for nearly a decade.

Brother Wesley Welch of Local 1381 (Hammond, Ind.), his wife and their two daughters lost their house in a fire Jan. 30 and are seeking help.
Welch, 39, a switchman with Norfolk Southern, and his family saw their home in Cedar Lake, Ind., destroyed and one family member was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation, according to a report from the Northwest Indiana Times.
Welch’s sister-in-law, Amanda Riley, has established an online fundraiser to assist Brother Welch, who has been a SMART-TD member for almost a decade, his wife and his daughters, 12 and 9, as they attempt to rebuild their lives.
“He’s a great guy — a great member,” said General Chairperson Justin Wolters (GCA-449) who is a fellow Local 1381 member.
Please follow this link if you are able to donate and help the Welch family in their time of need.

Our union is in mourning after losing Jose “Joe” Alfaro, a member of SMART Transportation Division for more than 15 years, to the COVID-19 pandemic on Nov. 13. He was 58 years old.

Brother Jose Alfaro of Local 18 in El Paso, Texas, a 15-year SMART-TD member, died from COVID-19 on Nov. 13, 2020.

Brother Alfaro was a member of Local 18 in El Paso, Texas, and worked as a trainman/brakeman for Union Pacific.
He leaves behind his wife of 22 years, Ruoana and four children: Avan Brian, Mia Brianna, Vanessa and Robert.
An online fundraiser has been established by Local 18 Secretary & Treasurer Catarino Montero with the proceeds going to benefit Brother Alfaro’s family.
“His wife and kids wanted us to thank you from the bottom of their hearts for your prayers and donations. She is grateful for everything you all have done,” Montero wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We personally wanted to thank everyone for all your donations and help during this time. At the end of the day, we are all a railroad family and unite to help one another out, and during these tough times it has really shown!”
When asked to describe Joe, co-workers shared:
“Joe always would show up to work with a smile and a genuine greeting, so even if you were having a bad day, he always seemed to bring out the best in you.”
“He was a great switchman and better friend.”
Follow this link to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are currently no plans for a memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations to the fundraiser would be appreciated.
SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother Alfaro’s family as well as his union brothers and sisters in Local 18 and beyond.