|Remembrance J Utterback|
I don’t know when I met John Rivera, he just always seemed to be there on the job with Local 22. But then when he retired and the Training Dept, needed assistance, he was an obvious choice. It was then I started to know him for real.
He loved Local 22 and all the stagehands, especially the new ones. He had been there, working hard for years to get his card. He started working in the business, as he loved to tell me, chauffeuring for Henry Fonda, when Mr. Fonda was starring in a long running show at the Kennedy Center. He was the only person who showed up to audition for the job, and despite his afro out to there, Max Woodward had to hire him. And he was perfect for the job, as he knew how to get to anywhere, and he was unfailingly polite and helpful.
Which is how we was when he worked for me in Training. And this was in spite of his diabetes, his kidney problems, and even the failing health of his beloved wife, Anne. Anne would usually answer the phone when I called, and she would always laugh and tell me to get him out of the house and out of her hair. But Anne was his favorite person to talk about. After she passed, when she came up in conversation, and she always did, there was always a catch in his voice.
He loved his work, and his buddies, but he loved his family most of all. He told me so many stories about his girls that I felt like I knew them, even though I hadn’t met them. He was so proud that he and Anne had such a great family, and was so grateful that they looked after him so well.
He was my union brother, but he was also like a real brother to me. I can’t forget him. He was an indelible part of my life.