District Lodge 19

where it all begin

W.A. Kesler Jr.

W.A. Kesler Jr.


Honoring William A. Kesler Jr. 70 year IAM Membership.  In January of 2016 Local Lodge No. 263 Recording Secretary (R/S), Robert B. Phillips, requested from the IAM Grand Lodge a list of members who earning membership pins.  

These pin were awarded at a banquet held in 2016. When the list arrived, along with the membership award certificates and pins, Phillips was surprised to see an award for 70 years of service. This honored member of the IAM was William Alfred Kesler Jr.

R/S Phillips approached the Local Lodge President Daniel Johnson with the news and the search began to see if Brother Kesler was still living to receive such an award. After many hours of searching, Brother Kesler was located in a nursing home facility in Salisbury, NC near where he had lived. The certificate and pin was ordered and received from the Grand Lodge Membership Department and the process of setting up and receiving approval for an awards banquet began.

During the time it takes to get all things in place, planned and approved, unfortunately Brother Kesler passed away, he was 93 and the officers of the Lodge decided to see if they could find Brother Kesler’s Next of Kin and present Brother Kesler’s award posthumously. Honoring Brother Kesler for his lifelong membership with the IAM is a rare privilege. President Johnson found Brother Kesler’s daughter Linda Kesler Canovai living with her husband in Charlotte, NC near where LL 263 holds it monthly meetings and invited them to accept the award on her father’s behalf. Mrs. Canovai was very pleased and honored to do so and could not believe that the local would go to such lengths to present such an award.

The day of the banquet came and Brother Kesler’s award was presented to his daughter along with 34 other brothers also receiving membership awards ranging from 15 to 45 years of membership. Dinner was served and Mrs. Canovai was ecstatic to get to meet members of the local lodge who knew and worked with her father for so many years telling stories of the things they remembered that happened during work. In the search for Brother Kesler it was discovered he was eligible for the Southern Railway/IAM death benefit, which is no longer available to members, and the paperwork was given to her so she could collect this benefit, which her father had earned during his tenure.

President Johnson distributed the awards to the members and in his remarks said “it is an honor and a pleasure to be able to present these service awards and especially a 70 year pin which is an extreme rarity, and I regret that Brother Kesler has gone on to that Great Railroad in Heaven before things could be planned and take place, so I could shake his hand, and present this award in person. It is an honor to be able to present it to his daughter and family.”

Brother Kesler started his Railroad career with the Southern Railway being initiated on April 1, 1944 at the Spencer Shops in Spencer, NC, moving to Seaboard Railway in Jacksonville, FL, in 1949, back to Spencer from 1950-1962, to Asheville, NC, from 1962-1965, and finished his career at the Charlotte Roadway Shop in Charlotte, NC, from 1966-1984 when he retired and obtained his Retirees card to remain a part of the Local and the IAM. Brother Kesler was a 3rd generation railroader and Machinist.