Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

Feb 4, 2000

THE NORTHWEST OREGON Labor Retirees Council has tapped Joseph Patrick Hargrave for membership in its Labor Hall of Fame. He's a former business manager of Portland Steamfitters Local 235, which is now part of the Tualatin-based United Association of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, whose jurisdiction covers most of Oregon, southwest Washington and two northern counties of California.

Hargrave, 77, retired in 1982 as the international union's training coordinator in the western United States and Canada.

The following account of Hargrave's career was written for the the NW Labor Press by Jan Kirkland, who interviewed him while she and her husband, Earl, were visiting the Hargraves in Idaho. Jan is a retired member of Office and Professional Employees Local 11 who worked as office manager of the Oregon AFL-CIO for nearly 10 years. Earl is the retired executive officer of the Columbia-Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council and former first vice president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He still chairs the Union Labor Retirement Association, builders and overseers of the Union Manor retirement apartment complexes in the Portland metro area.

By JAN KIRKLAND Joseph "Pat" Hargrave was born at Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Oct. 11, 1922. He was the second oldest of four sons and one daughter born to an Irish immigrant mother and a father from Texas who liked to refer to his nationality as "League of Nations."

He graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1941. World War II was looming in the future of our nation, and he had the opportunity to attend government-sponsored trade training courses at Utah State College in Logan.

In February 1942 he got a job at Kodiak, Alaska, helping to build a naval air station. The Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor in June of 1942 and occupied the islands of Kiska and Attu in the Aleutian Chain. Fuel tanks were hit and docks were burned. A call went out for volunteers to help repair the damage. Pat said it looked like a great adventure in those days, so he volunteered.

The military draft age was lowered from 21 to 18. While he was at Dutch Harbor he registered at Unalaska, a little fishing village across the harbor. He joined the U.S. Navy, and after a few months of training in San Diego was assigned to the USS Fuller. It was an amphibious personnel attack ship, referred to as APA-7. The ship was of World War I vintage and had been converted from coal to oil, to fuel four boilers.

Everything was run by steam, including the deck machinery. Pat said "you could see steam leaking everywhere you looked." That is where Pat started his trade as a steamfitter. He participated in the first-day landings of the battles for the Pacific islands of Saipan, Tinian, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Luzon and Okinawa, and also saw duty in the occupation of Japan and the roundup of Japanese troops in China. Pat returned to Alaska in 1946. He joined the newly-chartered Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 375 in Fairbanks.

He moved to Portland in 1956, and transferred his union membership to Steamfitters Local 235. He served as an apprenticeship instructor, and was elected president of the local union in 1960 and business manager in 1962. As business manager of Local 235, he served on a host of committees, councils and trade groups, including the Portland Central Labor Council, the Building Trades Council, the Metal Trades Council and the Oregon State Pipe Trades Council. He was vice president of the Oregon State Building Trades Council.

Pat was a leader in starting the Portland Steamfitters and Plumbers Local Union Pension and served on the board of directors of the union's Health, Welfare and Pension Trust.

Active in politics, Pat worked on campaigns for various labor-endorsed candidates, including Senator Wayne Morse, Congresswoman Edith Green, Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton, State Treasurer and Governor Bob Straub and Congressman Bob Duncan.

Pat was appointed by Governor Mark Hatfield to serve on a board charged with developing a comprehensive mental health program for Oregon. He served on the board from 1963 to 1965, for which he received a commendation for outstanding public service.

Governor Hatfield also appointed him to the State Apprenticeship Information Center Advisory Committee. Pat represented the Oregon AFL-CIO before a congressional committee in a successful effort to create the Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Park. His presentation to this committee was printed in the Congressional Record. He was nominated by Governor Hatfield to serve on the board of directors of the Parry Center, a home for children, in Portland. While serving on that board he saw the need to modernize the plumbing and water systems and the kitchen. He accomplished this with volunteers from building trades unions.

Pat said all labor leaders in Oregon were giving time and effort to public service. He led volunteer union pipe tradesmen in helping to build a house for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The home was auctioned as a fundraiser.

He strongly believed that if skill levels of members could be upgraded it would be the key to improving their economic well-being. He led a successful effort to negotiate money into the local's labor agreement for training.

As Local 235's business manager, Pat had the solid support and help of Business Agent Hank Kistner and Financial Secretary Matt Walters Sr., two good men who served the local union as business managers at later dates.

He was selected by UA General President Peter Schoemann in 1967 to coordinate and expedite the development of high-level training programs at all local unions in the 12 most westerly states and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

A pipe trades instructor training program, sponsored by the international union, is conducted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, every August. Pat promoted solid participation from his district and attended and assisted this program for 15 years.

Modern up-to-date textbooks and supplemental materials were developed under the guidance of the International Apprenticeship and Training Committee and the UA Training Department.

Training centers, equipped to teach all skills of the pipe trades, became a part of most local unions. These schools are jointly administered by local committees of contractors and labor. Today the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry has acquired a new dimension. It has become a world-class educational institution; its members are among the most affluent workers in America.

Pat retired in 1982. He has been a guest of the UA at every international convention since his retirement. He has been a member for more than 53 years and was granted a lifetime membership.

Pat has two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage, and six grandchildren. His sons, John and Bill, are members of Local 290 and both are graduates of the Steamfitters Apprenticeship Program. John is a mechanical general contractor in Portland. Bill works as a construction supervisor. Daughter Kathi is a travel agent who lives in California with her U.S. Navy admiral husband and two daughters.

Pat and his wife Carol, a retired teacher, live in Hayden Lake, Idaho, north of Coeur d'Alene. He enjoys fly fishing and golf.


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