James “Jimmy” Deene, a business agent and organizer for Teamsters Local 355, died of a heart attack Friday at Kent General Hospital in Dover Del. He was 58 and was a former Odenton and Severn resident.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown and Rosedale, he was the son of James J. Deene, a door and window salesman, and his wife, Catherine M. Burgess. He attended Sacred Heart of Jesus School and Calvert Hall College High School, where he played football. He was a 1978 graduate of Patterson High School. He also attended Lincoln Tech School.
Mr. Deene founded a trucking business, J. Deene Trucking Inc., and delivered produce from the Washington and Baltimore wholesale produce markets.
He later drove for US Foods and, after becoming active in the Teamsters Local 355, he was the business agent for Sysco, Allied Bindery, Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and Westway Food.
“Jim’s deal was that he was a worker and a driver, and started out as a rank-and-file guy. He had a belief you have to give your employer a good day’s work. He also believed you deserved a good day’s pay,” said David A. “Dave” White, secretary-treasurer of the local. “He was an honest man.”
Mr. Deene had also represented The Baltimore Sun’s drivers since 2002 and later added representation of the pressroom employees in 2008 when the former Graphic Communications International Union merged with the Teamsters.
“He was tireless worker who bent over backward for his union members,” said Lawrence E. Geho, president of Baltimore Mailers Local 888. “He was upbeat and could be boisterous in negotiations when he had to be. He was a happy guy and had friends everywhere.”
Mr. Deene enjoyed hunting on the Eastern Shore, in Canada and in Maine, and was an Orioles and Ravens fan. He also relaxed while cutting his home’s lawn. He played golf and followed NASCAR.
A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Fields Roman Catholic Church, 1070 Cecil Ave. in Millersville.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Deborah Ann Kacin, a homemaker; a son, Edward D. Wetherbee Jr. of Falling Waters, W.Va.; daughter, Randi Marie Deene of Dover, Del; a brother, Michael S. Deene of Baltimore; a sister, Donna Ann Deene-Maxwell of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.