Over the past several months, 17 Local 13 (Philadelphia) retirees have died; but due to COVID-19, the local was unable to give them the proper Boilermaker memorial they deserved. In the past—under “normal” circumstances—L-13 has offered a Boilermaker Ritual during a member’s funeral service to honor his or her memory and work. Since that was impossible during the pandemic, BM-ST John Bland had the idea to honor deceased members by hosting an outdoor memorial service.
“It was weighing heavy on my heart that we could not give a proper farewell to our brothers,” Bland said. “I’ve been to a lot of Boilermaker Rituals, and it’s something that makes you feel that you're part of a family. It’s something we should never forget.”
Across the street from L-13 is a large event gazebo that accommodates up to 250 people. The gazebo met COVID-19 guidelines and the local’s space requirements. On September 25, the local honored deceased members all together and paid tribute to their families with the Boilermaker Ritual. Bland, retired BM-ST and IR Mike DiCicco and president Robert “BJ” Cryder led the service and said a few words to remember each member individually as well. Family members were invited to bring photos of their loved ones to display.
As is the practice of Local 13, each family was presented a framed, printed Boilermaker Ritual, and each was also given a succulent plant keepsake. The words “Remembering a Beautiful Life” were inscribed on each plant box, along with the name of the honored Boilermaker.
Finding a way to safely honor deceased Boilermakers—amid a pandemic crisis—the message was clear: Boilermakers are more than a brotherhood; they are a family.