The oldest living member of Teamsters Local 743, Bernyce Wright, passed away this week in Chicago at age 101. She had been a Teamster since the 1940s.
"It is with tremendous sadness that the Executive Board of Teamsters Local 743 acknowledges the death of our oldest and perhaps most inspirational member," said Donnie Von Moore, President of Local 743. "Bernyce Wright first joined the Teamsters Union at a time when women and minorities faced profound disadvantages at every turn. We can be proud today of her legacy as a strong African-American woman, a tireless worker and a resilient human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones."
Wright first joined Local 743 as an employee of Aldens, Inc, where she ultimately worked for more than 30 years. Founded in 1889, Aldens stood as one of Chicago's largest and most profitable mail-order companies. At its peak in the 1940s and 50s, it employed thousands of Local 743 members working in a 690,000-square-foot warehouse. The company changed hands over the years before being sold to Wicks Lumber in the 1970s. It closed in 1982.
For the last several years, Wright had been a resident at Concord Extended Care Nursing Home, a Local 743 company located on Ridgeland Ave. in Oak Lawn. In 2010, she participated in a documentary to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Teamsters and shared her experiences on film as a minority union member in the 1950s.
Funeral services will be held for Wright at 9 a.m., Saturday, August 11, at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 8441 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL. Contact the church at (773) 846-2992 for additional details. All Local 743 members are invited to pay their respects.
Wright is survived by her daughter, Barbara Wright-Pryor.
Teamsters Local 743, an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, represents more than 11,000 hardworking men and women in warehouse, manufacturing, health care, clerical, mail-order and professional industries throughout Chicago.