A shock for all of us, a sad day’
By TIM ROWDEN
The Labor community is mourning the loss of two Laclede Gas workers, members of Gas Workers Local 11-6, who were gunned down April 20 while working in St. Louis City’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood.
The shooting happened at 11:16 a.m. in the 5900 block of Minerva Avenue on the western edge of the city.
Police said the workers, Alex Boschert, 27, of St. Charles County and William Froelich, 52, of Jefferson County, were fatally injured when a gunman walked up to them and started shooting.
Boschert’s family issued a statement to the Associated Press saying he was “a hardworking young man who loved the outdoors and being on the farm,” and that he treasured his family and friends.
Police said the gunman,Clinton Willis, 51, of the 5800 block of Highland Ave., turned the gun on himself after shooting Boschert and Froelich.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Willis’s family and friends told police that he had been concerned about an unpaid AmerenUE electric bill, but police were uncertain if that was a possible motive.
Willis had a criminal history dating to the 1990s, with convictions for drug trafficking, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and armed criminal action.
Manyik McCoy, 37, told the Post-Dispatch the workers were connecting the gas to a home she was moving into on Minerva. One was using a jackhammer and another was in a backhoe. She said she talked and joked with them briefly before walking down the street to her mother’s house. She and her mother and three young children were in the yard when the shooting started.
‘A SAD DAY’
As news of the murders spread, St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White, a member of Gas Workers 11-6, posted to Facebook: “We don’t realize when we go out to work every day that we may not come home. Today, two union brothers will not be going home to their family simply for doing their job. This has to stop. Please keep their families and everyone involved and all workers in your prayers today. Godspeed brothers.”
Utility workers face dangers on a daily basis, working in all kinds of neighborhoods under all kinds of circumstances, White said, but the random nature of last week’s shootings was unexpected and shocking.
“They were there doing something that they’ve done every day for the last however many years and they’re not going to come home tonight,” White said. “It’s a tragedy. Nobody expects something like this to happen. When it does, it’s a shock for all of us. It’s a sad day.”
Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, also posted to Facebook, expressing sympathy and the unique empathy the Fraternal Order of Police shares with the Gas Workers.
“My heart goes out to my union brothers from Gas Workers 11-6 who perished serving their community today,” Roorda wrote. “We must stop the violence. We must support law and order. Prayers for all of their families, friends and co-workers. No union can understand better what you’re going through than the Fraternal Order of Police. We feel your pain like no one else can.”
‘SHOCKED AND GRIEVING’
In a statement, Laclede Gas said: “We are shocked and grieving today after two of our Laclede Gas employees were shot and killed this morning at one of our job sites. We are heartbroken, as you can imagine, and ask that you hold these employees, their families, their friends, Laclede Gas workers, and our communities in your thoughts and prayers.”
Laclede Gas and other area utilities, including Ameren Missouri, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District and Missouri American Water, pulled employees from St. Louis work sites April 20 as a precaution.
Ameren Missouri’s Senior Vice President of Customer Operations Mark Birk said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ family members and co-workers at Laclede Gas during this difficult time.”
HELPING THE VICTIMS’ FAMILIES
Union members and other participants in last week’s Labor/United Way Trap Shoot and Barbecue fundraiser in East Alton, IL, on April 21 passed a hardhat for Boschert and Froelich, raising $1,010 for the men’s families.
Laclede Gas has also set up a fund with the United Way of Greater St. Louis to support the Boschert and Froelich families. You can make a donation online or send a check payable to “Laclede Gas Workers Memorial Fund” to:
United Way of Greater St. Louis
Attn: Laclede Gas Workers
P.O. Box 954281
St. Louis, MO 63195-4281
Slain union members remembered as devoted family men, committed members of their communities
William Froelich and Alex Boschert, Laclede Gas workers and members of Gas Workers Local 11-6, were cruelly and senselessly murdered April 20 while working to connect gas service to a home in St. Louis City’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood.
Friends and family remembered the union brothers as devoted family men, deeply committed to their communities.
Following is obituary information for Brother Froelich and Brother Boschert
William “Bill” Froelich passed away on April 20, 2017. He was 52 and lived in the De Soto area.
Brother Froelich was born on February 11, 1965, in St. Louis. He was a lifelong union worker, having joined Gas Workers 11-6 at the age of 18. He married Karen Jones, his childhood friend and high school sweetheart on October 23, 1986. On July 14, 1987, Aug. 28, 1990 and Sept. 12, 1993 respectively, he welcomed his three beautiful children into the world.
Brother Froelich was a passionate and devoted father. He was a softball/baseball coach, president of Hillsboro Little League, and a mentor to many. Brother Froelich was intelligent, strong, determined, resilient, funny, loving, caring and gave service to those in his community.
He always took the ‘bull by the horns’ and would give anyone who needed it, the shirt off his back. With his passing, the world lost a selfless man with a boundless spirit and generous heart.
May Brother Froelich’s light live on in those he loved and all who knew him, bringing peace to his family and friends.
Brother Froelich is survived by his parents William and Faye Froelich; his wife, Karen; his mother-in-law Wanda Jean Jones; his children, Kimberly Ann Frazer (Froelich), Kristina Marie Froelich, and William (Bill) Allen Froelich; his daughter-in-law, Krystin Marie Mitchell-Froelich; his son-in-laws, Eric Leonard Aguillard, and Georgeo Eduardo Romero Frazer II; his granddaughter, Rory AnnMarie Froelich, and over 20 nieces and nephews that he loved dearly.
He was preceded in death by his brother Kenneth Stewart Froelich.
Contributions in memory of Brother Froelich may be made by visiting this GoFundMe account. Friends may also sign the family’s on-line guestbook at Schrader.com.
Alex John Boschert, of O Fallon, MO, passed away on April 20, 2017. He was 27, the loving husband of Krystal R. Boschert, and devoted father of Cletus John Boschert.
Brother Boschert was the beloved son of Allen and Carol Boschert; dearest brother of Art (Cary) Boschert, Ann (Harry) Eggering, Karen (Chris) Wheadon, Mary Jo (Bart) Steinhoff, Carla (Tim) Eggering, and Jean (Nick) Kaimann; loving son-in-law of Mark and Marlene Aubuchon; cherished brother-in-law of Valerie (Chris) Gnade, Joshua (Emily) Aubuchon, and Kurt Aubuchon; treasured grandson of Rosalie and Al Coleman and Delores Aubuchon; and a beloved uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend to many.
He was preceded in death by his infant child, Haven Boschert and his niece, Maggie Kate Boschert.
Brother Boschert was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Old Monroe, MO, Knights of Columbus Council 10144, the St. Charles County Fair Board and Gas Workers Local 11-6.
Brother Boschert was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed farming, fishing, and hunting.
Brother Boschert loved and adored his family and friends and will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
A visitation for Brother Boschert was held April 24 at Immaculate Conception Church in Old Monroe, MO. A funeral mass was held at the church April 25, followed by internment at Immaculate Conception Cemetery.
Memorials may be to the Alex Boschert Memorial Fund (for his son Cletus) c/o Bank of Old Monroe, SHARE, or Masses.