Former BLET General Chairman Bob Godwin, 1938-2008

Former BLET General Chairman Robert W. Godwin, 69, passed away in Buffalo, N.Y., on April 11.

Brother Godwin was a former District Chairman and General Chairman of the Conrail General Committee of Adjustment, Brotherhood of Locomotives Engineers and Trainmen. He also served as Local Chairman. He first joined the Brotherhood on September 8, 1970, and most recently was a member of Division 421 in Buffalo, N.Y.

"Brother Godwin will be remembered for his distinguished career of leadership and service to the members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen," said BLET National President Ed Rodzwicz. "His love for the Brotherhood was only outstripped by his love for his wonderful family. He was a great union leader who will be sorely missed. On behalf of the 55,000 men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, I extend my deepest condolences to Brother Godwin's family."

Born in West Seneca, N.Y., he graduated from West Seneca High School in 1957. He then worked on various railroads for 42 years.

Brother Godwin got his start in union relations at the age of 13 when he organized his fellow caddies at Orchard Park Country Club and led them in a strike. It was the beginning of a long union career.

In 1957, Brother Godwin was hired by the Erie Railroad, working his way through the union ranks. In 1971, he became local chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and was later named District Chairman before becoming General Chairman in 1986. Over the next 15 years, he was reelected to the General Chairman's position several times until his retirement in 2001. During his leadership, the Conrail General Committee became the largest in the nation.

Brother Godwin also served the BLET as Chairman of the Eastern General Chairmen's Association for several terms. In 1986, he served as Chairman of the Constitution & Bylaws Committee at the BLET's Third Quinquennial International Convention in Cleveland.

After retirement, he was awarded a New York State Assembly Citation by Assemblyman Mark Schroeder for his dedication to unions and his community.

Brother Godwin was born August 16, 1938. He is survived by his wife, the former Margaret Helmbrecht; five daughters, Beth Maslanka, Ann Marie Shea, Patricia Aboukhaled, Robin Collins and Heather Seifert; a son Robert Jr.; four brothers, Francis, James, John and Patrick; and four sisters, Mary Ellen Kern, Joanie Wolfe, Jane Wisnier and Jean Doherty.

Flowers are gratefully declined. Memorials may be sent to the Alzheimer's Association of WNY Chapter, 2805 Werhle Drive - Suite 6, Williamsville, NY 14221.

Also, the BLET's Eastern Union Meeting Association (EUMA) has established a Scholarship Fund in his honor in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to the Brotherhood. Members who wish to contribute to this fund should make their checks payable to "EUMA" and mail them to:


© 2008 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen