ITF Inspector Petitpas Passes Away at Age 67

 

September 2014

 

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The maritime community is mourning the loss of Arthur Petitpas, a longtime inspector with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) who died July 20 at age 67.

 

A resident of Rosedale, Maryland, Petitpas had been battling cancer, though his cause of death officially was listed as a heart attack. Despite having been in and out of the hospital, he worked nearly until his final days and was based at the SIU hall in Baltimore.

 

“He was always looking to help seafarers in need,” recalled SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, who chairs the ITF Seafarers’ Section. “He was a genuine guy who never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was a seafarer’s seafarer. He did whatever needed to be done, did it well and never was interested in grabbing the limelight.”

 

ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton remembered Petitpas as “a tireless worker who defended seafarers’ rights and constantly protected them from unfair treatment and harassment. Many seafarers owe Arthur a debt of gratitude for protecting them.”

 

A U.S. Marine Corp veteran and native of Cambridge, Massachuttes., Petitpas, like many other ITF inspectors, had a specific union affiliation in addition to working for the federation. He worked for the old National Maritime Union in Savannah, Georgia., beginning in 1998 – three years before the NMU merged into the SIU.

 

Following the merger, SIU Port Agent Elizabeth Brown worked with Petitpas when he moved to the Baltimore area.

 

“He was such an awesome man,” Brown stated. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He was part of our family and will be missed.”

 

ITF Coordinator Ricky Esopa knew Petitpas for 30 years.

 

“What I would like to say most is that Arthur had a tremendous heart when it came to defending seafarers’ rights and would do whatever it took to get that done,” Esopa said. “He was a great colleague to all of us. I also consider him a true friend that I could always count on.”

 

In a remembrance that Esopa wrote for the ITF, he noted that although illness had sapped Petitpas’ energy for the past year and a half, he didn’t let it stop him from standing up for mariners.

 

“He loved his job as an ITF inspector and always told family and friends that he had the best job in the world,” Esopa wrote. “There are thousands of seafarers that owe him a great debt for his service.”

 

Rita Guigli, Petitpas’ sister, described Arthur as “a great guy with a big heart. We were very close. He’d do anything for anybody. He loved his job and he was good to his family…. I especially also want to say a big thank you to everyone for the cards and flowers and kind words. They were very much appreciated.”

 

Petitpas was preceded in death by his wife, Penny; his cremains were scheduled to be buried with hers in a family grave in Massachusetts. He also was preceded in death by a brother, while survivors include two sisters.


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