Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 celebrates retirement of United Association General Secretary-Treasurer Pat Kellett


PAT KELLETT, recently retired United Association general secretary-treasurer and former Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 business manager, was celebrated by Local 562 members, family, contractors and other locals on April 4 in appreciation of his 44 years of service to the union. – Labor Tribune photo

Earth City, MO – Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 feted one of its own April 4, recently retired United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs (UA) General Secretary-Treasurer and former Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 Business Manager Pat Kellett, with a retirement celebration in his honor.

Surrounded by friends, his large family and hundreds of union members from Local 562 and other locals, Kellett reflected on his 44-year career in the pipe trades and his rich family history in the Labor Movement.

“I’m feeling blessed today. Local 562, the United Association has given so much to my family and I – and we – are forever grateful,” Kellett said. “I’ll always remember my Dad saying, ‘I owe everything to my local union,’ and it’s so true. He believed it deeply. He said it often, and he was so right. That’s why he always gave back to our local union, honestly, until the day he died.”

Kellett is the son of the late Dick Kellett, a  Labor legend in St. Louis. A former business agent and lifetime member of Local 562, Dick Kellett was the co-founder and longtime president of the North County Labor Club, an influential force in North County politics that continues to this day, and in 2016 enjoyed the distinct honor of seconding the nomination of his son, Pat, for the role of general secretary-treasurer of the United Association, the No. 2 spot in the international union. Dick Kellett passed away in 2020 at the age of 85.

“I’m so glad that Johnny and Dickey and I got to follow in Dad’s footsteps,” Pat Kellett said of himself and his brothers. “We certainly didn’t create the path that he did, we simply followed. He was a legend in our business, as a father and as a Labor leader.”

Kellett’s brother, Dick Kellett Jr., Local 562 business representative and vice president of the Tri-County Labor Club, paid tribute to his father and his brother in a proud and emotional speech during the ceremony.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago we were living in Mom and Dad’s basement, staying out late and getting up early to go to work,” Dick Kellett said.

“It’s unbelievable how far you can go in this business with hard work and dedication, and Pat certainly had that. From when he first came to the local he got involved in the union meetings, politics, charity events, the softball team, the soccer team, Heats On, the fishing tournament. He was there for everything, and people recognized that.

“I came in a year after Pat so it was really cool to sit back, close-up and watch how far he went in his career. Watch him go through his apprenticeship, become a foreman, become an officer in ’97, a business agent in 2000 to the business manager in 2007, and was asked to come up to the UA to the convention in 2011 and in 2016 he ran with the McManus team and became the general secretary-treasurer where he’s been for the last seven years. It was really cool to sit back and watch that Pat. I couldn’t be happier and prouder of you.

“I know Pop’s up there with a big smile on his face tonight, as the rest of us are.”

Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara, reflected on his own time working side-by-side with Kellett at the local.

“Working with Pat was quite amazing, the ideas, the thoughts, the new challenges that  he came up with all the time. He’s the real reason why we’re sitting in this room today,” referring to Local 562’s state-of-the-art training center.

“Before he left to go to the UA, he’d already put together a plan to build a new training center. It was way ahead of its time, and way ahead of a lot of locals that were building after that. We’re probably talking 15 years ago. Thank you Pat for getting it started. This is what your dream turned out to be and you’re a big part of it.”

A testament to Kellett’s influence were the managers and union representatives from locals across the U.S. that turned out for the retirement celebration.

“Everybody in this room can stop and say, this is what Pat did for me,” O’Mara said. “He didn’t do it because he wanted to win an office, he didn’t do it because he wanted to be popular. He did it because he grew up that way. His mom and dad taught him how to care and worry about other people’s feelings and he did that his whole career.”

All of the evening’s speakers thanked Kellett’s wife, Mary, their children and granddaughter for sharing him with Local 562 and the United Association throughout his career.

As union leaders often times we forget about the one most important person that kept us propped up, kept us alive and kept us going in our union, and that’s our significant others, that’s our wives,” said Kellett’s successor, UA General Secretary-Treasurer Derrick Kualapai.

“Mary Kellett, on behalf of the United Association, I get the honor to stand here before you, look you in the eyes and tell you ‘thank you’ for sharing your husband with an entire organization, 375,000 brothers and sisters who tugged on your husband’s coattail because they needed a question answered and he would answer that phone during dinner time, he would take that email during a time when you probably didn’t want him to take that email, and you had to share him with us. Thank you for sharing Pat Kellett with the United Association.”

Kualapai also thanked Kellett for seeing to it that he was prepared when he took the job as general secretary-treasurer. They have known each other since 2018, when Kualapai became special representative for the state of Hawaii and traveled to the UA headquarters in Annapolis, Md.

IN APPRECIATION of his 44 years of service, Pat Kellett (center), retired United Association general secretary-treasurer and former Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 business manager, was presented with a plaque by his brother Local 562 Business Representative Dick Kellett (left) and Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara (right) on April 4 at Local 562’s training center in Earth City, Mo. – Labor Tribune photo

“On Jan. 1 of this year, we sat down and he said ‘This is what we’re going to do. You’re going to shadow me for three months. I’m going to show you everything I know, everything I’ve been working on, and the last week and a half before I say ‘sayonara,’ I’m going to move out of my office and you’re going to move into that office. I’m going to sit right outside your front door in a cubicle and I’m going to keep my eye on you,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

“Pat, I’m forever grateful for your actions, I’m better for it. We are better for it. And I want all of this membership to know that the United Association transition of power in the general secretary-treasurer’s office was seamless and a class act, true to form.

“On behalf of the 375,000 UA brothers and sisters, ‘thank you’ Brother Pat Kellett for making the United Association better than the way you found it.”

“I just want to give a special thanks to all of you,” Kellett said in his remarks. “Everybody in this auditorium has made an impact on myself, my children, my mother, everybody in my family. Even the young apprentices who I don’t know, you’re making an impact on our life whether you know it or not. And for that I say ‘thanks’ to each and everybody.

“When you go to work every day and you put pipe up and you do it the right way, you make a difference in the life of every brother and sister in this local,” he said.

“We all know none of our success comes single-handed. Every move we make, every success we have in a day’s work is done through the support of who you have around you. When you’re lucky enough to work as a member of the UA, there’s no better workplace to receive the support. It comes naturally to this local, 562. Our brothers and sisters have always stepped up, whether it’s the cliché of passing the torch, the journeyman teaching us to be an apprentice, the member helping a brother or sister in need, it just comes naturally to 562.  Generations are being passed down. I take such pride in it, I mean this from the bottom of my heart, it’s  just second nature to you guys.”

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