Gerry Greer, a retired grand lodge representative for the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and a former president of the Marion, Polk, and Yamhill Counties Central Labor Council, passed away May 29. He was 71.
Before going to work for the international union, Greer was a business agent for then-Machinists District Lodges 163 and 24.
Gerald “Gerry” L. Greer was born on Jan. 13, 1943 in New York City. He moved to California’s East Bay as a young boy, then to Clovis, New Mexico, and finally to Salina, Kansas, before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge from the service he returned to California and formed a rock and roll band. The band joined the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and from 1964 to 1970 traveled across Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
After the band dissolved, Greer worked as a bartender and later as a vice president for the restaurant chain Mr. Steak. After three years on that job, he and his wife at the time, Mary Jo, moved to her hometown of Salem, Oregon. There, Greer found a job as a welder at a Caterpillar lift-truck plant in nearby Dallas. He joined Machinists Local 1506 and became active in the union.
Gerry and Mary Jo divorced in 1980.
Greer was hired as a business agent for IAM District 163 representing the members of Local 1506. When the IAM merged District 163 into Portland-based District Lodge 24, Greer was appointed administrative assistant to then-directing business representative George Miller.
While with District 24, Greer was elected to represent the Salem-based labor council’s three counties on the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board, and later was elected first vice president of the state labor federation.
It was also while working out of the District 24 building that Greer met his second wife, Annie, who was the manager of the union’s financial office.
In 1989, Greer was appointed by the IAM as a grand lodge representative — an international rep — and assigned to Phoenix. He later took an assignment to the IAM’s 13-state Western Regional Headquarters in Sacramento, California.
After retiring in 2005, the Greers returned to the Northwest, making their home in Washougal, Wash. Gerry transferred his membership to Vancouver Local 1374.
Greer was inducted into the Northwest Oregon Labor Council Retirees Association Labor Hall of Fame in April 2007.
Greer is survived by his wife of 32 years, Annie; sons Douglas Weaver of Kansas, Sean Smith of Beaverton, Erin Smith of Happy Valley, and Joel Greer of Salem; daughter Jeni of Chicago; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
At his request there will be no service. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.