Goodbye, Fellow Worker Jennie Cedervall

An obituary of Jennie Cedervall, a longtime IWW member.

The IWW recently learned of the passing of longtime member and supporter, Jennie Cedervall, who died in Willoughby, Ohio, on January 22, 2009, at the age of 95. Born as Eugenia Anekite near Montreal, Canada to Romanian immigrants and IWW members George Anekite and Victoria nee Galason (Galtzan), she moved as a child with her family to Minnesota where she lived on a farm, and then to Detroit, where she worked as a book keeper at the Mt. Elliot Coal Company, which housed IWW workers.

FW Cedervall later worked as a stenographer, and was involved with several IWW locals in Detroit and Cleveland over the years. While she was not getting the publicity reserved for other members of the union, FW Cedervall nevertheless contributed tirelessly to the union and helped to keep the organization running through some bleak times. She met her future husband, IWW organizer Frank Cedervall, at an IWW event in Michigan, and later relocated with him to Cleveland, where some of the IWW’s most important work took place with the Metal and Machinery Workers Industrial Union from the 1930s into the 1950s. During the 1970s, she drove with her husband on an IWW speaking tour through the West Coast of the United States.

Jennie and her husband retired to Willoughby, Ohio, while continuing their union support. FW Cedervall was able to attend the IWW’s Centenary event in Pittsburgh in 2005, where she was recognized for her many contributions to the union. She stressed that while it is important to have a vision of a better world with a radical analysis, this is of little importance if it is not put to practical use, through bread and butter gains for workers.

FW Cedervall contributed her time in her later years to many organizations, including the Clean City Association of Willoughby, Edison Elementary School, and the Lake County Historical Society. Services were held for her at the DavisBabcock Funeral Home, with Rev. Arthur Severance of the East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church.

We will remember FW Jennie Cedervall for helping all of us “get the goods.” She is survived by daughter Pat and soninlaw Don Lewis, and many nieces and nephews. The family welcomes contributions to the IWW in her name.

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker (June 2009)