Quite unexpectedly and tragically, our coeditor, Robert Alford, died of pancreatic cancer on February 14, 2003, at the age of 74. We would like to tell you a little bit about him. Bob grew up near the Sierras in California where his parents had a ranch in Avery near Angels Camp, of jumping-frog-contest fame. Bob was well over six feet tall and he loved to walk in the forest, orchards, and mountains. He graduated from Bret Harte High School in the gold country of Northern California and attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1946. He was president of Stiles' Hall and active in the campus YMCA and the Labor Youth League. He regularly played classical piano in the Berkeley Chamber Music Group and loved folk music. Bob began work on an MA in sociology at California during the days of the controversial Loyalty Oath and left the university in 1951 rather than sign.
In 1952, Bob started working at the International Harvester truck plant in Emeryville, California. Bob Blauner, who was a coworker, describes their first meeting. “He was wearing goggles to protect his eyes and a gray apron or smock over his work clothes to collect the metallic dust coming from the machine he was operating” that made fenders for diesel trucks. Bob served as a shop steward and, with Blauner and others, pushed the UAW further to the left than it might otherwise have gone.