Q-C labor loses icon with death of Fallow

Posted Online: April 16, 2013, 9:18 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com
Labor lost one of its most storied local organizers on Saturday when Richard "Dick" Fallow's long life came to a close.

The 92-year-old former AFL-CIO official died at his home in Davenport on Saturday surrounded by his family.

He was a kingmaker in the local Democratic Party, with friends in the highest echelons of politics. But his real allegiance was always with the working classes and organized labor.

He fought for civil rights legislation in the 1960s, drove an ambulance in World War II and walked countless picket lines.

Four sitting congressman came to the Quad-Cities in 2007 when he was awarded the first-everLifetime Achievement Award from the East Central Iowa-Northwestern Illinois AFL-CIO.

"I wouldn't be in Congress if not for Dick Fallow," said David Obey, the former Wisconsin congressman and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, at the 2007 event.

Former U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, said Mr. Fallow was "instrumental" in electing Lane Evans to Congress for the first time.

He worked for the ACL-CIO as an area director of the Committee on Political Education until his retirement in 1988. But his activism for working men and women never stopped.

"Whether he was standing outside a congressman's office or on the picket line, nobody was more inspiring to listen to," Mr. Hare said. "He gave some of the most impassioned speeches ever, and he was always working toward common goals for labor."

Teamsters Local 371 President Howard Spoon remembers seeing Mr. Fallow turn up at a picket line outside the Oscar Mayer plant in Davenport just a few years ago in the depths of winter.

"It was ungodly cold, but he showed up all bundled up," Mr. Spoon said. "He was always there for anyone's rally or picket line, no matter whose union it was."

Born in 1920, Mr. Fallow joined the American Field Service during World War II and served as an ambulance driver for two years. Back from the war,he began working for the United Electrical and Radio Workers Union. From there, his long career in organized labor began.

Marshall Douglas, an official with Operating Engineers Local 15 and member of the executive board of the Quad City Federation of Labor, remembered a man who didn't have a selfish bone in his body.

"The guy had the heart of a lion," Mr. Douglas said. "He was always out there if he felt something was unjust or unfair."

But Mr. Fallow also had a steely edge and was known for his tenacity.

"Fortunately, it never happened to me, but I heard from people he had disagreements with that it wasn't a fun time," Mr. Hare said.

As tributes poured in for Mr. Fallow, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, said he "was a hero, a mentor, a role mode, and a dear, dear friend."

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, commented,"The working men and women of our region, and the entire country, suffered a great loss with Dick Fallow's passing."

On learning of his death, several friends of Mr. Fallow said it was difficult to imagine he would not be present at the next labor rally or on the picket line.

"My first reaction was, 'Wow, I thought Dick Fallow would last forever.' In a sense, he did. He was a good and kind man who will be sorely missed around here," said Porter McNeil, a local Democrat and political consultant.

A Celebration of Life service for Mr. Fallow will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Hall, 4600 46th Ave., Rock Island.


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