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John Suarez, 71, dies; sat on Works board

John O. Suarez, a union leader who served on the Fort Wayne Board of Public Works, died Friday. He was 71.

Suarez had been fighting pancreatic and liver cancer since February, his stepson Juan Correa said.

Correa said Suarez had been absent from Board of Public Works meetings since he was diagnosed. A city spokesman said the mayor will select a replacement.

Mayor Graham Richard appointed Suarez to the board in 2001.

At the time, Suarez was the business manager for Local 213 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which represents construction workers.

Union members had elected Suarez to that position starting in 1984. Before that, he worked at Fort Wayne Foundry in the 1970s and later served as a field representative for the union.

In 1984, Suarez was arrested during a union protest for allegedly blocking non-union workers from entering a construction site in Fort Wayne. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

In a statement issued Friday, Mayor Tom Henry called Suarez a “dedicated servant” of the city.

“John’s spirit and dedication will be remembered for his service as a member of the City’s Board of Public Works, since 2001, his contributions to the Board of the United Hispanic Americans, and his devotion and support for workers’ rights, he will be missed,” the statement said.