William Scheri, born on June 6, 1935, in Utica, NY, to Italian immigrants Ray and Concetta Scheri, passed away on September 8, 2019. “Bill” was the youngest of three siblings. He greatly admired his older brother Frank Scheri as well as his sister Mary Lou Scheri Quadraro who helped raise him after his mother died at a young age.
Bill attended Proctor High School in Utica. He was known for his strong athletics, excelling in both football and baseball. Bill was a “pulling” center on the football team which ran a very effective single wing. He played shortstop on the baseball team. Bill remained close with many of his teammates through the years. As a post-depression era baby, he worked many jobs while in high school and beyond--from pin setter at the bowling alley to dump truck driver.
In 1955 he enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. He became a jet engine mechanic, and he was in stationed in Alaska and South Dakota. While stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, he met and married his beautiful wife of 60 years, Audrey Anderson.
After discharge from the USAF, Bill and his bride returned to Utica. He worked for Mohawk Airlines as a mechanic’s helper in 1958. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Miami, FL. He graduated with an Associate Degree and FAA Airframe and Power Plant License during 1959-1961.
Bill and Audrey returned to Utica where they had a family—a son, Steven, and a daughter Sandra. Bill worked for Mohawk Airlines as an aircraft mechanic. While at Mohawk Airlines, he became actively involved with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW). In the following years, he served in numerous positions within the union from Shop Steward, Grievance Committee, Local Lodge Vice President, and President.
In 1967, the IAM recognized his talents, and he was promoted to a full-time union representative specializing in Organizing. In 1968, he was again promoted to Assistant General Chairman of IAM District Lodge 147 which later became District Lodge 141. During these years of representation, he became well known within the airline industry for his organizing, negotiating, and arbitration skills. He greatly enjoyed working tirelessly to represent the workers of the various airlines to ensure them fair and equitable treatment and job security.
In 1977, Bill moved his family to Silver Spring, MD, so he could serve as the Assistant Airline Coordinator for the IAM at their national headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1980, he was promoted to Airline Coordinator, overseeing the representation of most U.S. airline mechanics and ground service workers.
During his time at the IAM headquarters, the US Airlines endured a significant change including corporate raiders, mergers, acquisitions, and the deregulation of the airlines. He fought hard to defend the rights of workers while preserving jobs and ensuring fair and equitable contracts. Bill testified numerous times before Congress to ensure that workers’ rights were protected while going toe to toe with management foes such as Carl Icahn and Frank Lorenzo.
In 1990, he became Vice President of Transportation for the IAM, and his duties expanded to representation of the airlines, railroads, and certain sectors of the auto industry. He was well known throughout these industries, for his straight-forward no-nonsense approach to bargaining and arbitration while effectively retaining strong communication skills with the workers he represented.
Bill’s career as a union representative can be summarized simply by stating that regardless of the position he held, he was always steadfast in the belief that the rights of the workers must be fairly represented and that any violation of the workers’ rights must be fought with exhaustive effort. No battle was ever too challenging for Bill. Many people’s lives were changed for the better due to Bill’s tireless work.
In 1994, after 40 years of representing workers and traveling the world, he retired. Bill and Audrey enjoyed and active retirement, taking up residence in Cocoa Beach, FL. While in Cocoa Beach, they made great friends and enjoyed a very active social life featuring jazz clubs, golf, and beach life. Bill and his crew played three times a week; their favorite hole of course was the 19th hole where lively discussions of the world events were energetically debated.
After 14 years in Florida, Bill and Audrey moved to Audubon, PA to be closer to their two children—Steve and Sandy and their three grandkids—Patrick, Nick and Joseph. Bill adapted quickly to Philly sports—trading in his love of the NY Yankees, instead arranging his daily schedule around when the Phillies game was on TV.
Bill and Audrey were married for over 60 years. Together they traveled around the country and Europe. They enjoyed numerous cruises throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska.
He was extremely proud that both his daughter and son followed in his union activism. Bill was also very proud of his grandson’s academic and athletic accomplishments. Bill believed strongly in family and always treasured the moments of large family gatherings. He was a loving husband, a great father and role model, and a supportive and loving grandfather. Bill is survived by his wife Audrey (Anderson) Scheri, his son Steven (Megan), his daughter Sandy Scheri Niedermaier (Eric), and his three grandsons: Patrick, Nicholas, and Joseph Scheri.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit the family Monday, September 16, 2019 9:00-9:50 AM at St. Teresa of Avila Church, 1260 S. Trooper Road, Norristown, PA and to his Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market Street, Suite 102, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or to Guide Dogs of America, 13445 Glenoaks Blvd., Sylmar, CA 91342 would be appreciated.
399 Market Street, Suite 102, Philadelphia PA 19106
Guide Dogs of America
13445 Glenoaks Blvd., Sylmar CA 91342