John J. Cassidy, 92, of Mayfair, a former president of Teamsters Local 107 who once served as a Merchant Marine, died Tuesday, Oct. 29 of kidney failure at Abington Hospice in Warminster.
Mr. Cassidy was one of four children of James and Catherine Cassidy. He grew up in Fishtown and graduated from North Catholic High School. At age 17, he joined the Merchant Marine and served as a radio operator near Japan during World War II.
“He used to tell me, ‘You got out of high school and you joined the service. That’s what everybody did, because of the war,’” son William said.
He said Mr. Cassidy had tried to join the Navy, Army, and Marines, but was rejected because he was color-blind. So he joined the Merchant Marine. In peacetime, the Merchant Marine moves cargo and passengers, and operates and maintains merchant ships, towboats, ferries, and more. During times of war, however, the Merchant Marine serves as an auxiliary to the Navy, and transports troops and war material.
Mr. Cassidy told his children he considered himself lucky to have seen so much of the world as part of his service. He had been to Japan, Panama, and Korea while he was a mariner, his son said.
After his service ended in 1948, Mr. Cassidy returned to Philadelphia, and through friends met his future wife, Edna Scarpato. The couple married that year and later had three children. His wife died in 1997, but he never thought of marrying again, his son said: “She was the love of his life."
Mr. Cassidy worked as a truck driver in Philadelphia for 18 years, moving freight and other cargo, before becoming a Teamsters leader. As president of Local 107, Mr. Cassidy fought to get his members pay increases and health care and pension benefits, his son said.
“His whole life was about helping people,” he said.
For years, William Cassidy said, his father was active in the North Catholic alumni organization and attended its annual Mass and Communion breakfasts. He also served as a volunteer at St. Matthew Church on Cottman Avenue.
Mr. Cassidy enjoyed spending time at the house he and his family built in the Pocono Mountains, his son said.
In addition to his son, Mr. Cassidy is survived by sons John and James; a sister; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the FOP Survivors Fund, 11630 Caroline Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19154.