WASHINGTON -- Frank Drozak, who began work in an Alabama shipyard at the age of 16 and later rose to the presidency of the 100,000-member Seafarers International Union of North America, died of cancer at the age of 60.
A resident of Alexandria, Va., Drozak died Saturday at his suburban Washington home. Union members paid their respects to Drozak at a funeral home Monday and funeral services are scheduled for Thursday.
He will be succeeded by Michael Sacco, who was named executive vice president of the union in April by the labor organization's Executive Board. The board is expected to formally designate Sacco as president next week, a union official said, pending an election campaign for the union presidency that begins in November.
Drozak, president of the Maritime Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, was a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland and Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Donahue sent a letter to Drozak's wife Monday that said, 'Frank's death brings sorrow to trade unionists around the world, at sea and ashore - especially among those who had the good luck to work closely with him and to count him as a personal friend, as we did.'
Drozak was born in Coy, Ala., on December 24, 1927. At the age of 16, he began work in a Mobile, Ala., shipyard and became a seaman in 1944. As a boatswain, he became an organizer for the union in the 1950s, became port agent in Philadelphia in 1964 and began working in the union's San Francisco office in 1965, when he was elected an international vice president.
In 1972, Drozak moved to the union's international headquarters in NewYork City, and was elected executive vice president of the Atlanta, Gulf, Great Lakes and Inland Waters District of the union in 1976.
He became president of the union in July 1980, succeeding the late Paul Hall.
Drozak had been a member of the national board of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and also served on the International Labor Organization's joint maritime commission.
Drozak also was a labor adviser to the Congressional Maritime Caucus and was a subcommittee chairman of the Public Advisory Committee on the Law of the Sea.
Drozak is survived by his wife, Marianne Rogers Drozak of Alexandra; a daughter, Sarah Frankie Bell of Winston-Salem, N.C.; a sister, Mary Alice Walraven of Lilburn, Ga.; a brother, David, of Stone Mountain, Ga., and three grandchildren.