Gary Dean Will, a former directing business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24, passed away June 15 at his home in Woodburn. Cause of death was congestive heart failure. He was 79.
Will joined Machinists Lodge 1432 in 1959 after taking a job at Zidell Explorations. He was appointed as a business agent in August 1970 and later was elected to a full term.
In 1974, when District Lodge 24 was changed from an organizing district to a full-service district, Will was appointed as administrative assistant to then directing business representative (DBR) Bob Kennedy. When Kennedy was elected president of the Oregon AFL-CIO in 1975, Will succeeded him as DBR.
Will held the post until 1981, when the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) appointed him as a grand lodge representative and assigned him to serve the Klamath Falls and Coos Bay areas. In 1986, he was transferred to the international union’s Portland office and assigned to handle cases before the National Labor Relations Board.
In 1990, he started his 11-year assignment at the IAMAW’s headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area. When he retired in 2001, he was an administrative assistant to the union’s then international president, George Kourpias.
Will told the Labor Press in February 2003 — when he was named to Labor’s Hall of Fame — that a highlight of his career in D.C. was working on the merger that brought the International Woodworkers, USA, into the Machinists in 1994.
During his years with Lodge 1432 and District Council 24, Will chaired the Northwest Machinists Health and Welfare Trust Fund and was a trustee on the Western Metal Pension Plan, the Truck Operators League Health and Welfare Trust Fund, and the Northwest Machinists Dental Benefit Trust Fund.
Will also served on the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board and was a delegate to the Multnomah County Labor Council (now the Northwest Oregon Labor Council). In addition, he was active in the Oregon Machinists Council and the Oregon Machinists Non-Partisan Political League.
In 1980, Will was honored as the International Guiding Eyes Inc.’s Achievement Award winner for his work on behalf of the California-based charitable dog-training organization which was started by the Machinists Union in 1948.
George Dean Will was born in Waterloo, Iowa, Jan. 5, 1938 and moved to Oregon with his family four years later. He attended grade school in Hubbard and Eugene and high school at Oxnard, Calif., and North Marion High in Aurora. He joined the United States Army Security Agency in 1956 and served as an aircraft mechanic in Korea and at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. While at the latter post, he attended night school and earned his high school diploma.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, the late Mary Lou Will. Together they had six children, and 32 grand and great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life was held June 24 at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Woodburn. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Luke’s Catholic School.