December 29, 2016
By Stephanie West
North Bergen, NJ – Sam DuPree, a popular ILA figure from the Port of New York and New Jersey, who joined the longshore union in 1959 working as a holdman and forklift operator and rose up to become President of one of the largest ILA Locals and serve as Executive Board member and Vice President with the ILA’s Atlantic Coast District, passed away on Sunday, December 18, 2016.
With his family at his side, Brother DuPree died peacefully at the Center for Hope Hospice in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, at age 81, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“The ILA has lost one of its legendary leaders in Sam DuPree,” said International President Harold J. Daggett. “He was one of the finest ILA leaders I have known, a champion for his ILA Local 1233 members; a forceful Civil Rights warrior; and a man dedicated to his family and his community. On behalf of the 65,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, we extend our condolences to his wife, Viola, his children and all members of the DuPree family on the loss of this great man.”
Sam DuPree was born in Eastman, Georgia on February 22, 1935, the only child of Bertha Sykes DuPree and John L. DuPree. He came to Elizabeth, New Jersey at age nine. He was graduated from Thomas A. Edison Vocational and Technical High School in 1954. In 1959, he became a member of ILA Local 1233. He coupled his career as a longshoreman with increased involvement with his local. Beginning with his election as a trustee with Local 1233 in 1963, he went on to serve in elected positions as Recording Secretary and Business Agent. In 1989, DuPree was elected President of ILA Local 1233 and was then twice re-elected to four-year terms. In January 1982, he was elected Atlantic Coast District Vice President.
Always active in local, State and National politics, Sam DuPree was a founding member of the Union County A. Phillip Randolph Institute and was also a board member of the Essex County Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. He served on the Mayors Advisory Council of Woodbridge, New Jersey and was appointed by former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevy as a Housing Commissioner of the Woodbridge New Jersey Housing Authority. DuPree held memberships in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; the NAACP and the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta. He was a member of the Liberty Baptist Church of Elizabeth where he served as trustee under the late Reverend Kenneth E. Grayson.. Later, he founded the Sam DuPree Civic Association with a primary focus of providing decent affordable housing, financial assistance for college students, facilitating employment opportunities, mentoring young boys and helping the parents of homeless children afford toys during the Holiday Season.
“I am devastated by the loss of my friend and mentor, Sam DuPree,” said W. Bernard Dudley, the current President of ILA Local 1233, Atlantic Coast District General Vice President and Chair of the ACD’s Civil Rights Committee. “If I am called an effective labor leader, if I am praised as a Civil Rights champion or commended for having a social conscience, it is largely because I was instructed and inspired by Sam DuPree.”
Sam is survived by his wife of 61 years, Viola; daughter Phyllis (Risa); two sons, Gary and Sam Jr.; two grandchildren, Dr. Rashad DuPree-Harris and Lindsey Samantha Griffin; great grandsons – twin boys – Ezra and Landon; Godchildren Walter Price and Ashley Allen and many nieces, nephews and cousins.