IN MEMORIAM: UTU Local 1402’s William Andrew Mathes

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William Andrew Mathes, 68, of Granite City, a longtime member of United Transportation Union Local 1402 and delegate to the Southwestern Illinois Labor Council, who cared about his community and railroad safety, died Jan. 8 at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis.

Brother Mathes, known either as “Bill” or “Andy,” was born July 5, 1952, in Jonesboro, Ark. He was an alderman in the 5th Ward of Granite City, and a member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Granite City, plus the Tri-Cities Knights of Columbus, St. Elizabeth Men’s Club and the board of Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

Brother Mathes worked as a switchman for the Union Pacific Railroad and retired as a switchman. He was known for teaching about railroad safety in local schools under Operation Lifesaver, and he was the legislative representative for Local 1402.

In that capacity, he worked for years on behalf of the Safe Freight Act, a resolution still pending before Congress that would block railroads from operating freight trains with just an engineer and would require a brakeman as well.

In 2013, Mr. Mathes became a delegate to the Labor Council, continuing in that role until his death.

“He was a very knowledgeable member, willing to do anything that needed to be done,” said Council President Scot Luchtefeld. “He was well-liked and respected among the Council members.”

Eddie Brown, a former Local 1402 president who served on the Council alongside Brother Mathes, recalled him as a passionate man who always knew what he was talking about.

“Bill was a very dependable employee and a good person to know,” he said.

Brother Mathes’ service to Granite City began in 2012, when he was appointed to the city planning commission. He served on the commission until August 2018, when he was appointed 5th Ward alderman.  He remained on the City Council until his death and had filed to run for the 2021-2025 term.

Brother Mathes was preceded in death by a brother, Leland Mathes, and his parents. Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Carol Mathes, of Granite City; sons Jason Mathes, of Glastonbury, Conn. and Steven Mathes, of Granite City; sister Mary Ann Hendrix and brothers Robert Mathes and Jerry Mathes; and three grandchildren.

A private visitation and funeral mass were held Jan. 13 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. Interment will be in Calvary Catholic Cemetery at a later date.

Memorial donations may be given to the American Kidney Fund, masses or to the charity of the donor’s choice. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.irwinchapel.com.

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