RVP 2 Freddie Saburro turns 90

Dozens of NABET-CWA members and friends came out to celebrate RVP2 Fred “Freddie” Saburro’s 90th birthday last month in New York. The surprise dinner event coincided with the Union’s Sector Executive Council meeting.

            “I was so surprised,” Saburro, a NABET-CWA member for 63 years, said. “It was wonderful, a delightful affair. There were so many people I hadn’t seen in years. I’m so pleased that they did it, and so pleased that I was around to have it done.”

            Among the attendees were former Sector Vice President Bob Beaulac, CWA Retiree Coordinator Bill Freeda, former Local 17 President Tom Lang, representatives from NABET-CWA Locals 21, 25, 212, 11 and 16, as well as Francis Nolan, wife of previous NABET President Jim Nolan, Sr. NABET-CWA Staff Representative Bill Murray may have tipped him off to the festivities, however, when Saburro caught a glimpse of Murray on the hotel elevator. “I wondered, what the hell is he doing here?” Saburro said.

            In addition to the dinner, Saburro was feted with three birthday cakes and a custom purple 90th birthday tee shirt. He was the 13th child and the “baby” – born to his parents on Friday, Feb. 13, a date sandwiched between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day, making him “honest and loveable – the complete man,” he mused.

            He was just four when his mother died, and all of his brothers and sisters have passed (though one brother lived to be 100). He has lived in Schenectady, N.Y., his whole life, except for a stint in the Navy during WWII. Saburro left home at 17 with his entire baseball team – 14 young men – who joined the Navy together the same day. They were stationed in different places, but all returned home safely from the war.

            Saburro became a member of NABET Local 21 on Dec. 7, 1953, when he landed a job as a camera operator at WRGB-TV, the world’s first television station. Local 21, the first non-network local in the Union, had 55 members at the time. Saburro quickly became involved as a Shop Steward in 1954. He soon was elected Vice President of the Local and became Local President in 1955, a position he retained for nearly 25 years. He was around when NABET – then an international union – was separated between Canada and the United States during the 1974 Convention in Atlanta. He served as chairman of the Constitution Committee in 1974 and has since served on many of the Union’s most prestigious committees. In December 1979, he ran for Regional Vice President of Region 2 and has served 14 terms since. Saburro ended his television career at WRGB in February 1989 as a lighting director.

            In tribute to his longevity and loyalty to the Union, Local 21 named its annual summertime Clambake after him. The long-running event takes place in Latham, N.Y., each year, just after Labor Day, so that members from Capital Region stations WMHT, WNYT and WRGB can share time together.

            Saburro and his wife Ida – who have been married nearly 45 years – have 10 children, 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

            In reflecting on his long life and his years with NABET-CWA, Saburro offered: “Maybe the party was more than a birthday party, maybe it was a way to finally say goodbye.”

            Using his favorite sign-off, we say, “Remember who loves you, Freddie” – all of us at NABET-CWA.