VSEA Activist & Leader Passes Away

April 15, 2019 

April 15, 2019 


Longtime VSEA activist and leader Ken Bortell revealed to his union brothers and sisters in late 2017 that he was battling a serious illness, and VSEA is sad to report that, despite a brave fight, Brother Ken passed away yesterday. 

Rest in peace Ken. Condolences to your family, friends and colleagues. Bortell was a 15-year BGS employee. 

Here again is the letter Ken penned to his VSEA brothers and sisters just after being diagnosed in 2017, thanking them for their support and explaining why–for the first time in many years–he would not be attending VSEA’s Annual Meeting that year:

"My name is Ken Bortell, and I am a Union brother. When I think of my union, I think of our hard work for the good of all of my union brothers and sisters. The work we do now benefits our entire membership and the brothers and sisters who are not even here yet. Honestly, I never think of my union as benefitting a single person, but at the 2017 Council and Annual Meeting, my VSEA brothers, and sister came together to support one person–ME!

I was not able to attend Annual Meeting this year, and it was hard because I have not missed an Annual Meeting since joining VSEA. I am also chairperson of our union’s Special Events Committee, which is the best committee VSEA has. My thanks to the members of the committee for working so hard to give members the best weekend possible.

At this year’s event, due to my health issues, folks passed the hat and collected donations to support a brother in need. Donations came from people who know me, people who have heard of me and people who have no clue who I am. You don’t know how moved I was that members came together as one to give so generously.

People who know me well, know I am not an emotional person, but when I a sat there and opened my mail to find such a wonderful gift from so many caring, and loving brothers and sisters, I broke down. I do not know how to express how much it meant to me.

It didn’t matter how much was given. It was the fact that so many came together to support me.

As I write, I am becoming emotional again. So I just want to give my biggest, and most sincere, heartfelt thank you to all my union brothers and sisters."

In Solidarity
Ken Bortell

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