William Martin Fast, 1918-2015

Bill Fast
Bill Fast

Bill Fast, a retired port agent for the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA), passed away Oct. 16. He was 97.

Fast served as a union rep in the Portland office from 1966 to 1988. He was active in a number of organizations, serving as president of the Portland Maritime Trades Council and of the Multnomah County Labor Council (now the Northwest Oregon Labor Council). He was president of  Labor’s Community Service Agency and was president of the Willamette Democratic Society. His civic service included eight years as a governor-appointed member of the Port of Portland Commission.

Another facet of his work was serving as a consultant to the the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union in the Portland area. He also served on the board of directors of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans League, and was a longtime member of the Masonic Lodge.

William Martin Fast was born on Oct. 4, 1918 in Kingston, Idaho. After graduating from high school, he followed his father into the lead and silver mines, working for the Bunker Hill Co. Fast moved to Seattle in 1941 and joined the U.S. Merchant Marine, becoming a member of MEBA. He shipped out of West Coast and East Coast ports in World War II and served on ships transporting supplies to U.S. military forces in various war zones. After the war, Fast made Seattle his home port. When he was not at sea, he was active in politics.

He was the Oregon labor chairman for Richard M. Nixon’s successful 1968 presidential run. Fast supported Nixon, a Republican, because Nixon had promised to support increased construction of ships in the U.S.

In 1976, MEBA and Fast supported Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter in his successful run for the White House. Fast and his wife Beverly attended Carter’s inauguration.

Bill and Beverly, were married in 1962 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; both had been married previously.  She preceded him in death.

Fast is surived by two daughters, two sons, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren and two adopted daughters who are granddaughters. One son, William Lloyd Fast, was in the Merchant Marine, but later worked as a member of the Boilermakers Union and is now retired.

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