Brother Nicholas A. Vosejpka, of Hampton, Minn., a switchman with SMART TD Local 1614, died while on duty Dec. 30, 2017, as he worked as a yard foreman at Union Pacific’s Hoffman Yard in St. Paul, Minn.
Vosejpka, 35, was walking in the yard performing an air-test in temperatures well below zero with gusting wind at approximately 7:30 p.m. CST, Local 1614 Chairman Brad Nelsen reported. A student and new-hire switch person were with Brother Vosejpka when he collapsed, Nelsen said.
Emergency personnel responded and were unable to revive Vosejpka. UP yard crews were tied up thereafter.
“Brother Vosejpka was a hard worker, good man and a good rail worker,” said Nelsen.
Brother Vosejpka is survived by his mother, Brenda, young children Carter and Madison and extended family.
Funeral services will be at Rejoice Church in Dundas on Friday, January 5, 2018, beginning at 11 a.m. Visitation will be Thursday, January 4, 2018, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Bierman Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service in the church. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in Lonsdale. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.
A full obituary is available here.
Brother Vosejpka was the seventh SMART TD member who died while on duty in 2017.

Clyde Larson, 62, described as “an absolute pillar” of the railroad labor community in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, died on Nov. 8.
“Brother Clyde was a tremendously generous person and assisted all crafts,” said SMART TD Minnesota Legislative Director Phillip Qualy. “Clyde helped an untold number of railroad workers and our families with railroad and non-railroad matters.”
Larson, of Hermantown, Minn., was a member of UTU Local 1292 and worked as a conductor on the Duluth Missabe and Iron Range, later CN Railway, first hiring out in 1974 at age 19 as a brakeman.
He also served as Local 1292’s Local and General Chairperson from the late 1980s to 2010, protecting one of the most lucrative steel road contracts in the United States.
He also served as legislative representative on the Minnesota Legislative Board from 2003 to 2009.
Brother Larson had served as a field investigator for the designated counsel law firm Hunegs, LeNeave and Kvas since 2010.
Clyde was serving our members in the union hall (Local 832/1175) to his final day. His ongoing dedication to his brothers and sisters of railroad labor was truly remarkable.
Brother Larson is survived by his wife, Anne, three sons, Scott, Eric, and Corey, two grandchildren and his father, Dexter Larson.
Visitation will be 5-7 p.m., with a wake prayer at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Dougherty Funeral Home in Duluth. Visitation will continue from 10-11 a.m., followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at St. Lawrence Church in Duluth. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.
SMART TD extends its condolences to Clyde’s family and friends.

John Harold Burner, 75, of Robinson, Ill., a former assistant state director for the United Transportation Union, died at 10:50 p.m. Oct. 22, 2017 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind. He was born April 21, 1942, the son of Harold & Edith (Comer) Burner, both of whom preceded him in death. John Harold Burner
“John was more than an assistant director, he was a true partner when it came to representing rail workers in Illinois,” said Joe Szabo, a former Federal Railroad Administrator who also served as legislative director for the union in Illinois. “His ‘country boy’ manner resonated with members of the Illinois General Assembly, and he was trusted by both Republicans and Democrats. Together we accomplished a lot, and I owe John so much – as does every rail worker in this state. ”
SMART TD Legislative Director for Illinois Bob Guy also said that rail workers in his state are better off because of Burner’s efforts.
“The list of issues and topics that John worked on over the years is far too large to describe, but rest assured that our members are better off today for having John Burner representing us, I know I am,” Guy said. “So on behalf of all of our Illinois members, active and retired, I want to thank John for his service to our union, and I want to especially thank his wife Shirley and the rest of the Burner family for sharing him with us all those many years.
“We owe you, John — you won’t soon be forgotten, rest in peace my friend.”
John was a 1960 graduate of Palestine High School, and went on to further his education at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. In 1962, he started working as an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad, where he worked for 34 years before becoming assistant state director for UTU. He retired in 2008, and was a man who truly enjoyed his work, as anyone who knew him could attest.
Burner married Shirley Kay Corder on July 28, 1963, and she survives. He is also survived by his son & daughter-in-law, John S. & Kirsten Burner (Ventura, Calif.); by his daughter & son-in-law, Tammy & B.J. Fralicker (Palestine, Ill.); and by his grandchildren, Nick Halterman (Robinson, Ill.), Kiara Fralicker (Palestine, Ill.), and Sophia Burner (Ventura, Calif.); as well as a number of nieces and nephews.
In his free time, John could often be found on the water. In his younger days, he enjoyed water skiing. As he grew older, skiing turned to fishing, and this brought him so much joy through the years. He was also very active locally with the Boy Scouts. A former Eagle Scout, John was instrumental in starting the scout camp north of Palestine years ago. He was also active with girls’ softball for many years. Though John was many things to many people, he was first and foremost a family man. No one could doubt the love he had for his wife, children, and grandchildren, who have lost a friend, partner and patriarch.
John was a member of the Crawford County Bass Club and the Palestine High School Alumni Reunion Committee.
Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at Goodwine Funeral Home in Palestine, Ill. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the funeral home, with burial following in Palestine Cemetery. Celebrant Curt Goodwine will be officiating the service.
Memorials may be made to the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis.


Retired Texas State Legislative Director Cornelius “Connie” M. English Jr., 74, died at his home of Congestive Heart Failure, Sat., Oct. 14.
A veteran of the Army National Guard, English joined the Army in 1962 and was stationed in Ft. Polk, Louisiana; Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas; and in Okinawa, Japan from 1962 to 1965.
Upon his retirement from the Army, English went to work for Southern Pacific Transport Co. After seven years, he hired out with Southern Pacific Railroad as a brakeman and later as a conductor.
From 1999 until his retirement in 2015, English served the membership as state legislative director of Texas. His son, Brian English, currently serves on the Texas state legislative board as assistant state legislative director.
A visitation is scheduled 5-9 p.m. Oct. 19, with a funeral service at 11 a.m. Oct. 20, at Mission Park Funeral Home South, 1700 SE Military Dr., San Antonio, Texas.
A link to an obituary by the Texas AFL-CIO is here.

The following obituary in remembrance of Herman Joseph Boruta II is re-posted from the Stegenga Funeral Chapel website:

Herman “Herm” Joseph Boruta II, age 68, died Thursday, April 27, 2017. He died after a short illness with pancreatic cancer. He was a conductor for CSX and its predecessor railroads for 45 years. Boruta was local chairperson of UTU Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., for 36 years and also served as Local 313 delegate to the UTU International Convention for six consecutive conventions from 1983-2003.

Boruta leaves behind his loving wife, Jeanne Boruta; his children, Matt Boruta, Michelle and Mike Flaviani, Molly and Glenn Rawlins, Beth and Eric Arce; his grandchildren, Jake, Nate, Luke, Amelia, and Avonlea; his brothers and sisters, Katie and Stan Spetoskey, Mike and Mary Boruta, Matt and Cinda (Gibson) Boruta, Kris VanderVeen, Jane and Chris Steffes, Ellen and Danny Williams, Julie and Mike Mervau; Mother-in-law, Dorothy Dulude; In-laws, David and Marie Dulude, Mary Dulude, preceded in death by Thomas Dulude; and many nieces and nephews. He had a love for nature, especially Lake Michigan and its sand dunes. Boruta shared his extensive knowledge of history, politics and geography with his kids and grandkids. He always put others first, judged no one, and treated all with respect.

Please do not send flowers as none could match the beauty of his garden that he shared with many. His family would like to say a special thanks to Hospice of Michigan. Contributions in his honor may be made to The Consolata Missionary Sisters, 6801 Belmont Ave NE, Belmont, MI 49306.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at Assumption BVM church, 6369 Belmont Ave, Belmont, MI. His family will greet relatives and friends from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Monday ,May 1, 2017, at Stegenga Funeral Chapel – Belmont, 1601 Post Drive NE and one hour prior to the service at church. Prayers of the rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. Monday evening at the funeral home. To share a photo, memory and sign the family’s online guestbook please visit

Herm Boruta: Dedicated UTU Officer, Friend and Mentor to Many

“Herm was a true union man who fought many hard battles to protect the jobs of all the crafts in West Michigan. He was also a great mentor to many of the new members joining his local and always shared his history and passion with the next generation of union officers. As a retiree he attended the Local 313 meetings and was also active in NARVE, Grand Rapids Unit 152. He will be greatly missed,” –  said SMART TD Vice President Jeremy R. Ferguson.