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Published: Friday, 11/8/2013

Harvey Takacs; 1931-2013: Local union official championed labor

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Harvey Takacs. Harvey Takacs.
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Harvey Takacs, 82, a longtime officer of Ironworkers Local 55, which he joined as an apprentice at age 15, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perryburg Township, from complications after surgery.

He and his wife, Joyce, moved to Perrysburg this year from Sun City West, Ariz., their retirement home since the late 1990s.

He retired in 1990 as business agent of Local 55. The elected position was “full time-plus,” his son Bill said, as Mr. Takacs worked to ensure contractors in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan hired Local 55 members and offered prevailing wages and benefits.

“He had this commitment to bettering the standard of living of working people everywhere, of providing better safety and good working conditions,” said his son, a lawyer and a partner in a firm that has had Local 55 and other unions as clients.

In the 1970s, he championed increasing the ranks of women and racial minorities within the local. Mr. Takacs also was a former president and assistant business agent of Local 55 and a former president of the Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council.

Mr. Takacs “had a lot of good connections, politicians of both parties,” his son said. He’d been a co-chairman of a Carty Finkbeiner mayoral campaign committee. Mr. Finkbeiner and Mr. Takacs met years earlier as the future mayor campaigned for City Council and the labor leader walked a picket line to protest the use of nonunion workers at a construction site. Mr. Takacs was affable, and the men and their wives became close friends.

“He was beyond a friend in the labor community,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “Harvey’s warmth and outgoing personality welcomed people. He really cared about his fellow human beings.”

Born Sept. 23, 1931, to Elizabeth and Stephen Takacs, he grew up in East Toledo. His father and several uncles were career iron workers, and he left Waite High after 10th grade to become a Local 55 apprentice. An Army veteran, he served on Okinawa.

As a journeyman, Mr. Takacs worked at power plants, downtown building sites, grain elevators, and refineries. He sought duty on the local’s examining board and executive board. “As he got into the trade and into elected office, he was following in my grandfather’s footsteps [who had] held the office of business agent for years before my father,” his son said.

Mr. Takacs later became a regional administrator for then-Ohio Auditor Thomas Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson did not seek re-election and left office at the end of 1994 and later was convicted of nine misdemeanor counts for improper political fund-raising. Mr. Takacs in 1995 pleaded guilty to four related misdemeanors in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, receiving probation.

Surviving are his wife, Joyce, whom he married Aug. 26, 1950; son, William; daughter, Robin Libbe; three granddaughters, and a great-grandson.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Zoar Lutheran Church, Perrysburg.

The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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