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MTD Mourns Nicholas Celona

Nick Celona casual

The Maritime Trades Department is mourning the unexpected passing of former San Francisco Port Maritime Council Secretary-Treasurer and SIU Vice President of Government Services Nicholas “Nick” Celona. A lifelong Seafarer, Celona died at his home in New Orleans on June 8, apparently from natural causes. He was 65.

 MTD President David Heindel stated, “Back in the early 1980s, Nick and I had the privilege of working together in the port of New Orleans, a time during which we forged a lifelong friendship. Nick was a rare individual, brimming with a huge heart and an unwavering love for life. His infectious enthusiasm and unadulterated bravado left an indelible mark on everyone he met. As we remember Nick, we celebrate not only a dedicated seafarer but also a beloved father and friend who enriched our lives in countless ways. My deepest sympathies to his wife, Denise, and daughters Jennifer and Danielle.”

 SIU Executive Vice President (and MTD Executive Board member) Augie Tellez said, “Nick was a true SIU brother – always positive and upbeat. He was a great motivator and organizer wherever he dropped anchor, and he was loyal to the core. He was so proud of his family, and also was proud that he finally became a member of the SIU Executive Board. He will be sorely missed.”

 Celona had served as a vice president since summer 2021. At that time, he said, “My goals are to promote, protect and defend the U.S. Merchant Marine and the SIU Government Services Division, which in turn will help ensure our national security. We have to make sure that supplies get through to our troops.”

 Celona was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Lafayette High School in 1976 and soon thereafter found a home with the SIU. After completing the trainee program, he sailed in the engine department until 1982, upgrading several times along the way (most recently to chief electrician). He sailed on vessels operated by Sea-Land, Maritime Overseas, Delta Line, American Hawaii Cruises, Bay Tankers and others.

 Celona worked as a patrolman in New Orleans from 1983-88 and was involved in multiple inland beefs. He spent 1989 serving as the port agent in Piney Point before what turned out to be a long-term move to the West Coast. Celona was the union’s San Francisco port agent from 1990-94; he became an assistant vice president in 1994. During that time, he became involved with the MTD’s Port Maritime Council in the Bay Area. 

 Among other activities, he served as a delegate on the San Francisco-Alameda Labor Council and as a governor-appointed member of the board of directors of the Cow Palace (a popular, multi-purpose arena in Daly City, California).

 Always politically active, Celona organized the union’s annual Thanksgiving gatherings in San Francisco and Oakland, which ran for 29 straight years before temporarily being derailed due to the pandemic. Those feasts evolved into a Who’s Who of politics, with regular appearances from Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, John Garamendi, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Spier and many others. Based on his extensive work with the military, Celona in 2002 was sworn in as an honorary U.S. Marine, a rarity.

 Funeral information is unavailable as of this writing (June 10).

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