Sam Nasca, the dean of active SMART Transportation Division state legislative directors, who led union efforts for at least 32 years in the state of New York, passed away on Feb. 14, 2024, at the age of 90.

New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca passed away Feb. 14 at age 90.

Brother Nasca first joined the union in 1959 and was in his 64th year as an active member of our organization. He hired out as a trainman and worked for the Erie, Erie Lackawanna and Conrail railroads. He was the last active SMART-TD officer who had been a member of the union prior to the merger that created the United Transportation Union (UTU) in 1968.

“Brother Nasca was a reliable and trusted leader since well before some current national officers had even hired on,” National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes said. “He had a major effect on the progress our union has made in New York.”

SLD Nasca’s noteworthy longevity resulted in him being a well-respected advocate for labor in the state capital of Albany and in his hometown. In December 2023, Nasca was honored for his nearly three decades of leadership with the Hornell City Democrats in the town where he lived.

Three days later, on Dec. 8, 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a two-person crew bill, fulfilling a long-term goal of the union in the Empire State and making New York the third state that year to pass and put into law a two-person crew provision.

Having had the opportunity to sign similar legislation a year earlier, Nasca and his SLB’s persuasive effort toward Hochul undoubtedly had an influence in making the 2PC bill into law the second time around.

“You do not accomplish things legislatively by giving in after a single setback,” Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity said. “He and the New York State Legislative Board took Gov. Hochul’s failure to sign in 2022 to heart and got the bill signed the year following.”

As a sign of respect, Nasca was among the final people to be named to the SMART-TD Executive Board at the 2019 TD Convention in Las Vegas prior to that body’s dissolution. He also took part in multiple negotiations during his long, distinguished career on the bus and rail properties in his state to achieve just contracts for workers.

He had also contributed to the union’s political efforts from the first day as a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. He remained a contributor to TD PAC until his death.

Brother Nasca served in the United States Air Force from 1952-1957, based primarily in Texas and Germany, and received a Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He is survived by two daughters and two sons; eight grandchildren and a great-grandson. He is also survived by two brothers; several nieces and nephews; and his companion, Judy Masti.

Calling hours are 1-4 p.m. Feb. 25, 2024, at the Bishop-Johnson & DeSanto Funeral Home, 285 Main Street, Hornell, N.Y. Relatives and friends are invited to join his family at St. Ann’s Church, 31 Erie Avenue, Hornell where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, 2024.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to SLD Nasca’s family, friends the New York SLB and our membership in the Empire State. Brother Nasca’s life and legacy as a labor advocate serves as an example of unyielding commitment to the cause of the worker that we all can learn from and use as an inspiration. 

His family as well as members of Local 210 in San Antonio are mourning the death of Brother Charlies Scherbarth on Feb. 6, 2024.

Brother Charlie Scherbarth of Local 210 in San Antonio passed away Feb. 6, 2024, at age 30.
Brother Charlie Scherbarth of Local 210 in San Antonio passed away on Feb. 6, 2024, at age 30.

Brother Scherbarth, 30, was a member of our union for nearly a decade, joining in November 2014. He worked as an engineer for BNSF.

An online fundraiser has been established for his family, including his wife, Megan, by Local Chairperson Gary Relic.

“Charlie was well liked by everyone he came across and loved by those privileged to know him well. Constantly smiling and showing off pictures of his wife, fur babies, family, and his quail, Charlie was of good character and always projected a happy soul,” LC Relic wrote in the fundraiser. “He will forever be remembered.”

Visitation is scheduled 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, February 16, 2024, at Finch Funeral Chapel in La Vernia, Texas, with a memorial service beginning at 3.

The SMART Transportation Division expresses its sincere condolences to Brother Scherbarth’s family, his Local 210 brothers and sisters and all who knew him.

Vice President John D. “J.D.” Whitaker III, whose vital and key roles in negotiating numerous contracts on the general committee and national levels that improved the lives of many SMART-TD rail members, passed away July 27, 2023, of cancer.

VP Whitaker was 50 years old.

“It is a tremendous loss for John’s family — his wife, Melissa, and their three sons — to his friends and to the SMART Transportation Division,” TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “Brother John was a trusted and tireless leader for the membership and had an absolute passion about what he did for everyone we represent. Our hearts are broken and there is a great loss caused by his untimely passing. Yet the legacy he leaves behind is one of strength, bravery and accomplishment. The union would not be what it is today without his contributions.”

SMART Transportation Division Vice President John D. “J.D.” Whitaker III addresses the Second SMART General Convention at the Mirage in Las Vegas Nevada in 2019. VP Whitaker passed away on July 27 after a battle with cancer.

In his position as TD vice president, Brother Whitaker engaged in the National Rail Contract negotiations that began in November 2019, in addition to all his assignments for many of the TD general committees. He also proudly fulfilled his duties as a General Vice-President on the SMART General Executive Council (GEC).

“His absence leaves a profound void, for he dedicated his entire life to representing and advocating for the members he served,” SMART General President Michael Coleman said. “Throughout his career, he achieved remarkable success, always putting the well-being of those he represented above all else. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family as they navigate through this challenging period of loss.”

Brother Whitaker was born Nov. 16, 1972, and began his railroad career in 1997 with CSX Transportation as a conductor. He was promoted to engineer in 2002. A member of Local 1106 in Rocky Mount, N.C., he was elected to the position of local chairperson for engineers in 2002.

After gaining experience as local chairperson, he ran for vice general chairperson for CSX General Committee of Adjustment GO-851 and was elected effective January 2006. Whitaker maintained that position through March 2011, at which time he was elected general chairperson for GO-851 representing approximately 2,000 members on the former Seaboard Coast Line, CSX Transportation, Florida East Coast Railway, Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, High Point Thomasville & Benton Railroad, Georgia Railroad, South Carolina Public Railway Commission and South Carolina Central Railroad, covering six states.

In October 2013, Whitaker was appointed alternate to the TD executive board and was elected by delegates for another term in 2014. In December of that year, he was elevated to the position of Transportation Division alternate vice president. Whitaker was elected to the board of the SMART TD Association of General Chairpersons (Dist. 1) in 2016. He was then elevated to the position of vice president in April 2019, upon the retirement of Dave Wier and was elected by acclamation to that position at the Second Transportation Division Convention in August 2019.

Vice President Whitaker is survived by his wife, Melissa, and their three sons, Russel, Chase and Nick (Nicholas).

A celebration of VP Whitaker’s life is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, at Plantation Oaks Farms, 45460 Hodges Road, Callahan, FL 321011.

View Brother Whitaker’s obituary.

SMART Transportation Division Local 583 (Fond du Lac, Wis.) suffered a tragic loss prior to the Labor Day weekend when member John A. Thornton was killed Aug. 31 after a suspected drunken driver smashed into his transport vehicle in Matteson, Ill., while en route to work.

Brother Thornton, 48, was a conductor for Canadian National (CN) and a member of our union for nearly two decades, joining in November 2005.

Two other members of the crew, fellow TD Local 583 member Larissa Pondexter, an engineer trainee, as well as engineer Tony Hargrow were hurt in the crash. Both were treated and released from the hospital, said General Chairperson Kenneth Flashberger of GO-987.

Flashberger said the transport vehicle driver also was hurt, treated and released.

“John was a longtime employee and had a big effect on all of us,” said Wisconsin State Legislative Director Andy Hauck, who has known Brother Thornton for nearly 20 years.

Canadian National has made grief counseling to Brother Thornton’s co-workers. SLD Hauck also said they have committed to covering the costs of our fallen member’s funeral.

“The CN Railroad really stepped up and has truly been extremely supportive and helpful,” he said.

Hauck said Thornton was an organ donor and it provides some comfort that he will live on.

“While he was with us, John provided real joy with his humor,” Hauck said. “Now he is living on in a last act of charity so that others may live. Let’s hope that the laughter also comes with his gift.” 

Local 583 Chairperson John Potter is collecting donations for the Thornton family. Checks may be made out to John Thornton’s wife, Janelle Thornton, and sent to Potter at 314 Oak St., Rosendale WI 54974

Brother Thornton is survived by Janelle and two daughters.

“Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers,” GC Flashberger said.

Visitation is scheduled noon to 4 p.m. local time Sept. 7 at Uecker-Witt Funeral Home, 524 N. Park St., Fond du Lac.

CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson also said that the carrier will observe a minute of silence Thursday, Sept. 7 in memory of Brother Thornton.

“Our operations colleagues will stop all yard movements and pause activities where safe to do so. All movements on the main track continue and we will pay respect by ringing the engine bell at 11 a.m. local time,” she said.

The SMART Transportation Division extends its sincere condolences to the family, friends and the union brothers and sisters of Local 583 who will continue to cherish Brother Thornton’s memory.

Samuel “Sam” J. Marino, 77, passed away at his home September 4, 2023, after a long illness.

Samuel “Sam” Marino, a longtime local officer out of Local 1374 in New Castle, Pa., passed away on Labor Day 2023.

He hired out with the B&O Railroad (now CSX) in December 1966 and he applied and was approved for membership in the United Transportation Union predecessor Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen on July 22, 1967, as a member of Lodge 955.

After the merger of the four predecessor unions in 1969, Marino continued his membership in the UTU and became a member of New Castle, Pa. Local 1374.

Throughout his years of service as a stalwart union member and officer, he worked as a brakeman, flagman and conductor. He served the UTU (now SMART-TD) as a local chairperson for over 30 years and also as secretary and treasurer for over 20 years.

He also served as delegate and represented his local at many conventions. He served the UTU International as a special organizing representative for several years. He also served as a field supervisor for the UTUIA for a short time.

“Sam worked tirelessly to represent the members of Local 1374 and assisted other newly-elected UTU local officers to educate them to represent their members,” said former Local Chairperson Art Rayner (also of Local 1374). “Sam was known for keeping the railroad’s feet to the fire when it came to agreement issues or representing Local 1374 members.”

Upon his retirement in February 2010, Marino joined the Alumni Association and remained an active member. After retiring he continued to work for the UTU/SMART-TD membership by becoming an accident investigator for Designated Legal Counsel Matt Darby.

Marino will be missed by his family, friends and members of Local 1374.

Family will receive friends from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, at the Ed & Don DeCarbo Funeral Home & Crematory, 941 S. Mill St., New Castle, PA 16101

A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, at the funeral home. Rev. Richard Nero will officiate.
Burial will be in Madonna Cemetery.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its condolences to Brother Marino’s family, friends and his union brothers and sisters of Local 1374.

Read his complete obituary.

Vice President John D. “J.D.” Whitaker III, whose vital and key roles in negotiating numerous contracts on the general committee and national levels that improved the lives of many SMART-TD rail members, passed away July 27, 2023, of cancer.

VP Whitaker was 50 years old.

“It is a tremendous loss for John’s family — his wife, Melissa, and their three sons — to his friends and to the SMART Transportation Division,” TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “Brother John was a trusted and tireless leader for the membership and had an absolute passion about what he did for everyone we represent. Our hearts are broken and there is a great loss caused by his untimely passing. Yet the legacy he leaves behind is one of strength, bravery and accomplishment. The union would not be what it is today without his contributions.”

SMART Transportation Division Vice President John D. “J.D.” Whitaker III addresses the Second SMART General Convention at the Mirage in Las Vegas Nevada in 2019. VP Whitaker passed away on July 27 after a battle with cancer.

In his position as TD vice president, Brother Whitaker engaged in the National Rail Contract negotiations that began in November 2019, in addition to all his assignments for many of the TD general committees. He also proudly fulfilled his duties as a General Vice-President on the SMART General Executive Council (GEC).

“His absence leaves a profound void, for he dedicated his entire life to representing and advocating for the members he served,” SMART General President Michael Coleman said. “Throughout his career, he achieved remarkable success, always putting the well-being of those he represented above all else. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family as they navigate through this challenging period of loss.”

Brother Whitaker was born Nov. 16, 1972, and began his railroad career in 1997 with CSX Transportation as a conductor. He was promoted to engineer in 2002. A member of Local 1106 in Rocky Mount, N.C., he was elected to the position of local chairperson for engineers in 2002.

After gaining experience as local chairperson, he ran for vice general chairperson for CSX General Committee of Adjustment GO-851 and was elected effective January 2006. Whitaker maintained that position through March 2011, at which time he was elected general chairperson for GO-851 representing approximately 2,000 members on the former Seaboard Coast Line, CSX Transportation, Florida East Coast Railway, Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, High Point Thomasville & Benton Railroad, Georgia Railroad, South Carolina Public Railway Commission and South Carolina Central Railroad, covering six states.

In October 2013, Whitaker was appointed alternate to the TD executive board and was elected by delegates for another term in 2014. In December of that year, he was elevated to the position of Transportation Division alternate vice president. Whitaker was elected to the board of the SMART TD Association of General Chairpersons (Dist. 1) in 2016. He was then elevated to the position of vice president in April 2019, upon the retirement of Dave Wier and was elected by acclamation to that position at the Second Transportation Division Convention in August 2019.

Vice President Whitaker is survived by his wife, Melissa, and their three sons, Russel, Chase and Nick (Nicholas).

A celebration of VP Whitaker’s life is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, at Plantation Oaks Farms, 45460 Hodges Road, Callahan, FL 321011.

View Brother Whitaker’s obituary.

General Chairperson Gerald Wallace (GCA-261 — Canadian Pacific, Soo Line), a stalwart leader of our union and the husband of SMART Transportation Division Auxiliary Secretary & Treasurer Denise “Niki” Wallace, died July 16 after a long, courageous fight with cancer. He was 56.

SMART TD Auxiliary Secretary-Treasurer Denise “Niki” Wallace and General Chairperson Gerald Wallace are shown in this photo by the family. Brother Wallace passed away after a battle with cancer at age 56.

Brother Wallace joined our union in 2005 and after six years of membership began a period of 12 years of leadership, first as a vice local chairperson of LCA-261A (Milwaukee Road). Starting in 2011, he began eight years as a local chairperson.

He served three years as the trustee of Local 590 (Portage, Wis.), once as the local’s alternate delegate to the UTU Convention in 2011 and then as delegate to the SMART-TD Conventions in 2014 and 2019.

Concurrently, Brother Wallace worked his way up the leadership ladder in GCA-261 as well, serving as GCA secretary, vice chairperson and acting general chairperson before becoming general chairperson in 2019.

Local 590 Legislative Representative Steve James expressed his sadness at his union brother’s passing.

“A great man can now rest and be at peace,” James said. “He became one of my best friends ever.”

Brother Wallace and Niki frequently attended union functions and were often enthusiastic participants in the regional meetings.

He is survived by his wife, his children, Dustin A. Wallace, Sierra M. Hall and Dylon T. Hall; two grandchildren; his parents; his sister; his in-laws; nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends

A Celebration of Life will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Big Spring Congregational Church, 373 Golden Ct., Wisconsin Dells, with a sharing of memories at noon with Chaplain Jessica Smith officiating.

SMART Transportation Division is shocked and saddened by this loss and sends our deepest condolences to Sister Wallace, the family and friends of GC Wallace, his brothers and sisters in GCA-261 and Local 590, and all who knew him.

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 (Anaheim, Calif.) passed away on June 29, 2023.

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 in Anaheim, Calif., passed away June 29.

“Brother Gulley was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend,” said Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes. “As local president, Brother Gulley was instrumental in assembling one of our newest bus locals that represents operators and maintenance employees. 

Hughes said Brother Gulley was well-respected by the members of his local and had a way of putting a smile on everyone’s face. 

“He will be greatly missed,” Hughes said.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to all in Local 1590 who worked in solidarity with Brother Gulley, as well as his family and his friends in this difficult time. 

The SMART Transportation Division and Local 610 out of Baltimore are mourning the loss of a fallen brother who had his life and career ahead of him.

Derek Scott “D.S.” Little, a trainee due to join SMART-TD Local 610, was killed in a rail accident June 26.

Derek Scott “D.S.” Little, 28, was days away from marking up for the first time as a certified conductor with CSX and was slated to begin his career as a SMART-TD member on July 1st. Engaged to be married, he was two weeks away from the due date for his first child.

Derek was at a point in his life when everything was coming together perfectly. Tragically, it was all taken away from him the evening of June 26th while working at Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore.

Brother Little was involved in an accident while riding on equipment. He didn’t survive to see the birth of his son Logan Matthew Little, or to be married to his fiancée, Kaytee Burns. Well-liked in the crew room, he had a promising career ahead of him in Local 610. More importantly, as his obituary states, “Derek was a kindhearted, goofy, lovable young man who never missed a chance to make you laugh. He loved his family and friends and was looking forward to being a dad.” Beyond his love for his family, he also enjoyed learning about Civil War history and playing golf.

Railroaders know the financial significance of Derek having passed away four days before being marked up, and the financial significance to his fiancée and mother of his unborn son that comes with the fact that he passed away prior to them being married. His family will not receive the same level of support from the carrier and the insurance companies as they would have under different circumstances.

For that reason, SMART-TD is asking all who can to close ranks around this young railroad family in their worst moment and show what it means to be part of this union.

We ask that you follow this link to a GoFundMe online fundraiser established by Local 610’s Safety Committee representative to benefit Kaytee and Logan.

Read his obituary.

Left-Right: Former business manager and William’s son, Ken Greiner; Local 12 member William A. Greiner, aged 93; Business Rep. Geoff Foringer; former Business Rep. Dave Zychowski; Business Rep. Kevin Malley; former Business Manager and William’s son, Bob Greiner; William’s son and Local 12 member Bill Greiner; and William’s grandson and Local 12 member Ben Greiner

Longtime Local 12 (western Pa.) member and former Business Representative William Greiner passed away on March 11, 2023, at the age of 103. Greiner not only led a fulfilling life as a sheet metal worker, a unionist and an engaged retiree; he helped forge a deep personal and familial legacy within SMART.

“The Greiner family has a long, rich history embedded in the fabric of Local 12,” said Local 12 Business Rep. Geoff Foringer. “William had three sons, a son-in-law and two grandsons in the trade — two sons, Bob and Ken, were business representatives and went on to be business managers of Local 12.”

Greiner served in the United States Navy as a sub chaser during World War II before entering the sheet metal trade; he would live the rest of his life — 77 years — as a proud member of Local 12, including 18 years as a business rep. He ended up collecting a pension for longer than his years of service, Foringer added, and he was the definition of an active retiree: In addition to Local 12 activities, Greiner was an enthusiastic participant in Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) events, as well as an avid gardener.

“Bill loved to dance and was always the life of the party,” Greiner’s Legacy.com obituary reads. “Bill cherished his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”

In 2015, the SMART Members’ Journal published an article on the legacy of the Greiner family, noting at the time that, collectively, the family had contributed more than 480 years of service to the local. As we honor and remember William Greiner, it is clear that at least several generations — both in the Greiner family and beyond — benefited greatly from the more than seven decades he served as a SMART member.

“He lived a full and active life,” Foringer concluded.