Dec. 8, 2016 was a sad day for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District. It will be remembered as the day that the District lost one of its own, when Jesus “Jay” Torres III died shortly after arriving at work that morning. He was a hard worker that was dedicated to his family, friends and his team mates at the Charleston District and will be greatly missed.
Torres was an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Journeyman electrician and a certified electrician at the St. Stephen Powerhouse for six years. As an electrician, he was responsible for a wide range of duties including performing installation, maintenance and repair of all electrical equipment, as well as routinely inspecting and testing electrical equipment to ensure that the standards were met. If they were not, he was responsible for recommending, installing and maintaining the new equipment. Torres had mastered a variety of “shop” equipment, so much so he was often called upon for assistance by his teammates and he was always happy to lend a hand and smile to anyone needing help. In addition to all of this, Torres was able to complete the rigorous South Atlantic Division hydropower electrician qualification program in 2015, making him a double certified electrician.
One of Torres’ bigger projects was modifying and replacing all the electrical components for the potable water system. This included gutting the system, ripping out all the old wiring and rewiring the entire system. He was also the lead electrician for the fish lift, which meant testing and maintaining all the electrical equipment so that the lift ran smoothly. The fish lift is one of the most important fish passages facilities on the east coast, passing more than 750,000 fish per year, so its continued operation was critical and Torres did an outstanding job keeping this facility running.
Torres was the union steward for the American Federation of Government Employees, an organization some of the powerhouse employees belong to. As steward, he was an employee of the organization but also a labor union official who represented and defended the interests of fellow employees. He was perfect for the job as he had an excellent relationship and rapport with both management and personnel.
“Jay had a great personality and was easy to get along with,” said Ed Davis, hydropower electrician at St. Stephen. “This made him a good union steward. He was able to mitigate any issues for employees.”
Prior to joining the Charleston District, Torres was an electrician for several Tennessee Valley Authority hydropower plants. He was also a veteran, having honorably served in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War.
When he wasn’t working, he could be found spending time with his parents, Jesus and Viviana, his wife, Lisa, and his children, Treasure, Viviana, Sean and Eric, or cheering on the New York Yankees or New York Giants. His family was the most important thing to him and when he wasn’t with them, he was talking about them.
“He always talked about his family,” said Christianna Fralix, previous secretary of the St. Stephen powerhouse. “You could tell he was very proud of his children and was a wonderful dad and husband.”
Torres knew no strangers and was a friend to everyone he met. Many knew him through playing online games. He had a love for pizza, “The Walking Dead” television show, free style and the music group Run DMC.
“I am certain that by now, Jay has a large supply of Chic-O Sticks, has introduced angels, old friends, family, and complete strangers to the virtues of pizza, and interceded for the Yankees and the Giants,” said Joe Moran, operations chief. “Anyone with any concerns can be rest assured that, as a proud Corps electrician, Jay will keep the lights at St. Peter’s Gates well-lit forever.”
Torres will be remembered in the hearts and minds of everyone, especially his Corps family, who had the privilege of working with him.