[March 3, 1942 – Feb. 23, 2021]
Bill Belanger, a retired apprenticeship coordinator and 54-year member of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1, passed away at his North Portland houseboat Feb. 23. He was 78.
Belanger joined Local 1 in 1966 after being hired as an apprentice bricklayer on a project in Seaside, Oregon. He earned journeyman status in three and a half years.
He was active in the union and held many elected offices, including sergeant-at-arms, recording secretary, president, and business agent. He served as apprenticeship coordinator for several years in the early ’80s.
In 1985 he was elected executive secretary-treasurer of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council. Because the job did not pay a full-time salary at the time, he also worked part-time as a bricklayer. He left the council after one year to work full-time at his trade. In 1994 he was hired back as Local 1’s apprenticeship coordinator. He retired from that post in 2001. He remained active in the union until his death, regularly stopping by the union hall to visit.
“Bill was a legend in the masonry trades, and his union activism was as good as it gets, there was no one better,” said Local 1 Business Manager Matt Eleazer, who was an apprentice in Belanger’s program.
William Paul Belanger was born in Portland on March 3, 1942. He graduated from Lake Oswego High School, where he was a cross country runner. He attended Portland State University and served six years in the Oregon Air National Guard as an electronics technician.
Belanger married Sharon (Rixen), a member of Office & Professional Employees Local 11, on April 27, 1983.
In the 1990s, the Belangers participated in Portland’s popular Christmas Ship Parade. They would decorate their 38-foot fiberglass trawler with Yuletide lights and parade nightly in the holiday season with other boat owners on the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Before they bought their houseboat on the Columbia River, it earlier had been used as actress Raquel Welch’s home in the movie “Kansas City Bomber,” which was filmed in Portland.
Belanger was an avid auto racing fan. He traveled to the famed Indianapolis Brickyard, to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, and to other tracks around the U.S. to watch races.
Belanger is survived by his wife; and by daughter, Dana, from a previous marriage.
At Belanger’s request, there will not be a memorial service.