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Groen: Wendell Young III Was 'Truly a Giant'

Montgomery County Democratic Committee Chairman Marcel L. Groen remembers president emeritus of Local 1776 and longtime Pennsylvania labor leader Wendell W. Young III, who passed away on Jan. 1.

Groen: Wendell Young III Was 'Truly a Giant'

In a world where we too often use the word "giant" or "great" to describe someone, I can honestly say that for me Wendell Young III was truly a giant as a labor leader and someone who spent his life fighting for people.

I first heard of Mr. Young when I worked in the Bill Green for Mayor campaign in the spring of 1971. People would tell me how close he was to Bill Green and how influential a labor leader he was.  That was 42 years ago.  It never occurred to me that he was only 32 years old. Even then he had already achieved heights in the labor movement that few reach.

Over the years I watched how innovative and caring he was for his members; how he recognized the importance of child care, before it was popular to do so, so single moms could work and support their families; and the importance of education; strong retirement polices; and medical insurance. Wendell did more than just talk, he acted with a passion that is seldom seen. He never forgot that his job was not just to protect his members, but to help them prosper. Under his leadership, his union was and continues to be a "family" for all those who belonged.

He showed the same passion in his politics and in his desire that the state liquor stores continued to be operated by the state. He fought for and insisted that the stores be upgraded and improved upon, and that they provide both the service and the selection that the public had a right to expect.

As in any relationship, we didn't always agree, but I never questioned his sincerity, his commitment and his desire to improve the lives of working families.

We will miss him. While he can not be replaced, I know that the UFCW under his son's leadership will continue to implement and fight for the goals he set and will work to sustain his legacy.

Our condolences go out to his family, his wife, children and grandchildren, and to the members of UFCW 1776, they, too, were his family.

Marcel L. Groen, Chairman, Montgomery County Democratic Committee

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In 2007 Wendell Young III received the MCDC Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of commitment to Democratic ideals, and in 2011, he was the first recipient of the Bob Cooper Democratic Labor Award created to honor the strong relationship between Local Unions and the Democratic Committee.

A viewing will be held Sunday, Jan. 6, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Boyd-Horrox Funeral Home, 200 W. Germantown Pike, Norristown. Visitation will be held at St. Philip Neri Church, 437 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, on Monday, January 7, at 9:30 AM followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m.

Contributions in Young's memory may be made to Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, PA 19020 and Medical Mission Sisters, 8400 Pine Road, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Read Young's full obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer  here.

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