Last Runs & Honor Rolls
Frankovic steams through retirement
Brother Andrew J. Frankovic of BLET Division 521 (Hawthorne, N.J.) made his last run on September 3, 2004, working the Little Ferry yard job for the New York, Susquehanna & Western (NYS&W) in Little Ferry, N.J. He served as the division's legislative representative from 1995 until his retirement.
Brother Frankovic began his railroad career in 1974 as a trackman on the NYS&W. He went firing for the NYS&W in 1980 and earned promotion to locomotive engineer on June 17, 1981. He also spent time as a machinist for the NYS&W. He joined the BLE on January 1, 1981. In addition to serving his division as legislative representative, he was also a member of the auditing committee.
Brother Frankovic and his wife, Darlene, were married on February 25, 1968. They have one child, Michele.
Brother Frankovic is a member of the NYS&W Technical and Historical Society, where he enjoys running steam locomotives. He also enjoys taking long walks, traveling and refinishing wood furniture.
"Not only was the railroad a great career, it was a great learning experience," Brother Frankovic said. "I came to meet a lot of great people."
The Frankovics live at 13 Caroline Ave., Clifton, N.J. 07011.
Brother Frankovic takes a breather during a steam trip in Butler, N.J.
"Chopper" Chaney rides off into the sunset after 43 years
After more the 43 years in engine service, Brother Donald D. "Chopper" Chaney of BLET Division 47 (Denver) made his last run on May 29, 2005, on a trip from Grand Junction, Colo., to Denver.
Brother Chaney began his railroad career on October 24, 1961, for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in Denver. Brother Chaney subsequently accepted a position as a "Prior Right" Passenger Engineer with Amtrak on the "takeover" of train & engine service employees in the off-corridor service for zone 11 on August 17, 1987. He joined BLE Division 451 on July 1, 1966.
Brother Chaney plans to enjoy retirement by spending time with his family. He is an avid motorcyclist and will be making numerous road trips on his Harley Davidson.
Brother Chaney lives at: 1745 Simms St., Denver, Colo. 80215.
Division 192's Lester L. Wells loves retirement, but also 'loved running trains'
Brother Lester L. Wells of BLET Division 192 (El Paso, Texas) completed his last run for the Union Pacific Railroad on July 14, 2005, on a run between Vaughn, N.M., to El Paso.
Brother Wells began his railroad career on May 4,1973, as a fireman on the Southern Pacific Railroad. He earned promotion to locomotive engineer on June 24, 1974, and joined the BLE on September 1, 1974. During his tenure with the BLE, he served as the President of Division 591 in the early- to mid-1980s. He spent 12 years with the Unites States Navy - two years of active service in Norfolk, Va., and 10 years in the reserves.
Brother Wells and his wife Karen were married on December 5, 1965. They have two children, Lester and Brian, and four grandchildren. Brother Wells enjoys woodworking and fishing. In his retirement, he plans to complete some building projects and keep everything in "tip top shape."
"I made a lot of good friends that continue after retirement," he said. "I did my job to the best I could all the way to my last run. I loved running trains."
The Wells live at 5936 West City Rd. 10 N., Del Norte, CO 81132.
Division 192's Abinante a former SP engineer
Brother Charles N. Abinante of BLET Division 192 (El Paso, Texas) made his last run on August 2, 2005, for Union Pacific Railroad on a trip between Vaughn and El Paso.
Brother Abinante began his railroad career as a telegrapher for the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Jose, Calif., on December 16, 1970. He went firing for the SP on November 4, 1984, and earned promotion to locomotive engineer on May 28, 1986. He joined the BLE on December 1, 1986 and served his division as Vice Local Chairman of his division.
Brother Abinante and his wife Judy, have four daughters, Darien, Jacque, Julie and Jeanette, and eight grandchildren. During his retirement, he plans to golf and fish. He also looks forward to "not listening for the phone" now that he no longer has to worry about the railroad calling.
The Abinantes live at: 93 Saldana Way, Hot Springs Village, Ark. 71909.
Wilkins reaches 51-year Honor Roll status; Is a fourth-generation railroader
Brother Barney F. Wilkins of BLET Division 219 (Shreveport, La.) celebrated 51 years of membership on December 1, 2006.
Brother Wilkins began his railroad career as a machinist helper in 1946 on the T&P Railroad in Shreveport. He went firing in 1952 and earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 1962. He made his last run for the Union Pacific on March 26, 1989.
A fourth generation railroader, Brother Wilkins has many relatives who worked on the railroad, including his great grandfather, both grandfathers, his mother and father, and several uncles and cousins. His great grandfather, J.C. McGinnis, was a contractor whose company built the first rail depot in Fort Worth, Texas - a red brick depot for the T&P Railroad. His grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wilkins Sr., was a conductor out of Fort Worth, and his father, Ernest Mills Wilkins, was chief clerk out of Shreveport.
Brother Wilkins served his country for 17 years in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. During his time of service, he received citations that are too numerous to list, and served during both World War II and the Korean War.
Brother Wilkins and his wife Winona Ann were married on December 26, 1968. They have one daughter, Sally. Brother Wilkins is a member of many organizations, including: the Disabled American Veterans (life member), VFW Post 4588 (life member), 1st Marine Division Association (life member), American Legion Post 14, and the International Alliance of Theater and Stage Employees (life member).
Friends may contact Brother Wilkins at: 206 Mildred Street, Benton, La. 71006.
Send us your Last Run or Honor Roll information!!!
Are you a BLET member who has recently retired, or have you been a member for more than 40 consecutive years? If so, then tell us about it! Write:
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen