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Fouche, devoted labor advocate, dies at 84

He had a large reputation in Washington County and beyond

September 21, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Longtime union activist Arthur G. "Bobby" Fouche, died on Tuesday at age 84.
Herald-Mail file photo

A father figure for local Democrats and union members, Arthur G. "Bobby" Fouche died on Tuesday at age 84.

Fouche, a small, soft-spoken man, had a large reputation in Washington County and beyond, mostly for decades of championing labor.

In 2002, when he was named Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council Labor Person of the Year, Fouche told a reporter that he'd like his legacy to be: "Born union. Lived union. Died union."

His obituary said he was "a card-carrying member of the AFL-CIO" for 54 years.

He worked his way up the railroad labor ladder, then took a broader path, serving as president of the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council for about 12 years and vice president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, according to his obituary.

Fouche, who had Parkinson's disease, was a longtime link between labor and the local Democratic Party.

"He was a very dedicated Democrat, beyond a shadow of a doubt," said Hagerstown Councilman William M. Breichner, a fellow Democrat.

Breichner said he worked in the city's water department when Fouche was a councilman for four years in the 1960s.

Former state Sen. Donald F. Munson, a Republican who served in the Maryland General Assembly from 1975 to 2011, said he met Fouche in 1974, when Munson was campaigning in the city's West End.

Over the years, they clashed on some issues, but Fouche always kept his cool, a respectable trait, Munson recalled.

"Bobby was a man who cared deeply about this community," Munson said.

Fouche was the 13th of 14 children in a staunch union family while growing up in Hagerstown.

His first railroad job came in 1943, while he was a Hagerstown High School junior, according to a 1966 feature story about him. As a "call boy" calling train crews to work, he was on duty from midnight to 8 a.m., then would go to classes at 9 a.m.

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1945 and returned to the railroad after he was discharged.

He and his wife, Jackie, were married for 65 years and lived in Hagerstown.

"The basic purpose of the labor movement is to make a better life for the laboring man," he said in the 1966 profile. Labor and politics intersected as active parts of community life, he said.

A funeral service is scheduled for Saturday.

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