5th Generation Railroad Family Has Pocatello Roots
by Brent Sturman
Roderick Sturman, my grandfather, is pictured fourth from left on the podium. Roderick, president-Federal Shop Crafts, attended the presentation of an award to Pocatello, Idaho, shop employees for the best safety record on the system in 1951.
My father Roger Sturman, a former Idaho Falls electrican, wass featured in a photo for Union Pacific's 1970s "We Can Handle It" advertising campaign.
In 1977, I was looking for work in Pocatello, Idaho. My father handed me a letter and sent me to talk to the railroad. The recommendation helped me get a job as a laborer and continue my family's rich railroad heritage.
As a senior claims specialist, I'm carrying on the legacy as a fifth-generation railroader. When I started, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. Everyone had family who worked for the railroad. I grew to appreciate the camaraderie established with co-workers, who often would ask about my father or say they worked with my grandfather or great-grandfather.
My family's railroading history began with William Sturman, my great-great grandfather who joined the Oregon Shortline Railroad in Pocatello around the turn of the century as a fireman. Next, my great-grandfather Earl "Pappy" Sturman joined the railroad as a crane operator in the Pocatello wheel shop.
Earl's son, Roderick, followed the tradition, and worked as a blacksmith. A union steward throughout his career, Roderick received many awards for his service. I keep a picture of my grandfather at the old wheel shop in my office. He was a large, strong man who loved his work at UP.
On my mother's side, my grandfather, Merrell Gregersen, was a night watchman for the Pocatello shops. I recall my grandfather continued to wear his coveralls and carry a flashlight until the end of his life.
Roger Jex Sturman, my father, joined the railroad after high school, and then went into military service. He rejoined the railroad in the 1970s and worked as an electrician, later becoming a locomotive engineer and transferring to Milford, Utah.
Since joining the railroad, I've gone on to earn my bachelor's and master's degrees. I've worked in the shops until 1994, when I moved to the Claims Department.
It's a great heritage. None of us have done the exact same job. Someday, my children could come work for the railroad and continue our legacy.