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Narciso Torres: Husband, Father, Brother, MIA FacRep, Friend, Remembered for Selfless Nature, Positivity, and Passionate Leadership

Narciso Torres, an air traffic controller and NATCA member at three different facilities since 2008 who served as FacRep at Miami ATCT (MIA) since Oct. 1, 2019, and whose selfless nature and positive energy made him beloved by many, passed away on Saturday, May 14 in a tragic aircraft accident. He was 36.

Torres was piloting a Cessna 172 that lost engine power, according to the FAA, crash-landed on the Haulover Inlet Bridge north of Miami Beach, Fla., and struck a vehicle. Two passengers flying with Torres, his brother-in-law and cousin, were injured but able to escape the aircraft.

“This is a terrible tragedy that has sent shock waves throughout our NATCA family,” President Rich Santa said. “Our hearts go out to Narciso’s wife, Jennifer, his entire family, and the many fellow Union brothers and sisters that loved him so much and are now dealing with an unspeakable loss. Narciso touched so many people with his warmth and kindness, both within NATCA, in the facilities he worked, and in every interaction he had.”

Torres was at MIA since June 2015. He began his FAA career in May 2008 at Orlando ATCT (MCO), transferred to New York TRACON (N90) for one year in 2010, and returned to MCO in July 2011, where he served as FacRep from January 2013 to May 2015.

Torres also leaves behind a daughter, Juliette, and two sons, Jayden and Joshua.

Jennifer Torres, in a posted comment on Instagram acknowledging the widespread outpouring of love, condolences, and support in the wake of the accident, said Narciso “was a dear brother to so many. He has touched so many people and never gave up his passion to put others first. Thank you to all who have reached out. We greatly appreciate all of the love and support. My precious love, gone too soon.”

Southern Regional Vice President Jim Marinitti, who was at the facility to console members on Monday, called Torres “my FacRep,” and praised his passion and leadership. MIA has also been Marinitti’s home facility for nearly 30 years. He served as FacRep from 2005-2013.

“Narciso was full of positive energy and passionate about his family and NATCA, which was an extension of his family,” Marinitti said. “He recognized how one complemented the other. He was driven by the need to help people and work towards solutions.

“He had a mischievous smile, an unforgettable laugh, and infectious personality that drew people in. He embraced leadership and all of the responsibilities that came with it. He loved being a Facility Representative and his selfless nature was genuine. While he was growing as a leader, he worked to pay forward what he had learned and provide opportunities for others.”

MIA Vice President Nick Candelier, who worked with Torres since 2015, called him an “extraordinary and talented individual. His passion and dedication for the Union was limitless, and he sacrificed so much time to support his NATCA brothers and sisters. A true leader, his positive attitude and humor had ways of pulling people together, creating lasting bonds. MIA and so many others will truly miss this charismatic and loving individual.”

Torres’s former co-workers at MCO also are mourning the loss of their brother, said MCO FacRep Jeremy Heinbach. “He truly exhibited the tenets of leadership,” Heinbach said. “He led with great skill, passion, and knowledge while perusing NATCA’s mission statement of advancing the status, professionalism and working conditions of air traffic controllers and other safety-related employees. NATCA and the entire aviation community has encountered an unimaginable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family which I know he loved so dearly. Rest easy brother and we will strive to continue your efforts.”

Indianapolis ATCT (IND) member Hillary de Souza worked with Torres at MIA from 2015 until last year. “Narciso was a very positive person and someone who was very dedicated to NATCA and the people it represents,” she said. “He was always willing to jump in and help any way he could. My most recent experience with him was when he helped me with my hardship from Miami back to my hometown of Indianapolis. That was in the middle of all the COVID madness and crazy work schedules, but he was right there each step to help me along the way. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and NATCA has definitely lost a good one.”

Among Torres’s many Union passions was legislative activism. He represented his facility and region at NATCA in Washington in March, and worked to strengthen NATCA’s relationships with Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Byron Donalds. He also participated in the Union’s Campaign 2020 efforts.

“He led by example,” said National Legislative Committee Southern Region Rep Jenny Chhetri (Atlanta Center, ZTL), who called him “well-rounded.” She added that, despite his heavy workload as an active and engaged member and then FacRep during the 35-day government shutdown (Dec. 2018-Jan. 2019) and COVID pandemic, respectively, “he never forgot the importance of being active in our legislative arena and advocating for his members and for NATCA.”

“I appreciate the hard work and selflessness reps and advocates like Narciso do daily,” Chhetri said. “The time he devoted to his NATCA family was time taken from his own family. The devotion a rep has is worth mentioning, and I am thankful to have had someone like him represent our region.”

Charlotte ATCT (CLT) FacRep Anthony Schifano said he and Torres shared something unique as FacReps: They were the only two FacReps that represented members at a level 12 up/down facility with a sectorized configuration. “Considering this, we quickly became very familiar with each other once he took over as the Miami FacRep in 2019,” Schifano said.

“I remember picking up on a trait of his that immediately earned my respect: his passion,” Schifano said. “Any time we had a discussion about the issue at hand, he had an incredible passion about addressing the issue and getting his membership the result he was seeking. Not only was he passionate about the profession and the membership he represented, but he was also dedicated to be the absolute best representative he could possibly be.”

Over time, Schifano added, his working relationship with Torres turned into a friendship. “We would often talk about work, life, or whatever was going on that one of us needed to vent to the other about,” he said. “Considering we worked in different facilities, most of the in-person interaction was when we would see each other at a NATCA event. I always looked forward to his infectious personality, smile, and some random one liner that would immediately make my day that much better.”

The day before the tragedy, Friday, May 13, Torres participated in a large TRACON FacRep Group (TFG) teleconference. “In traditional Narciso style, he passionately brought an issue to the table that he was seeking help in resolving regarding training in his facility,” Schifano said. “As he spoke to the issue, there was no mistaking that one of a kind Narciso accent and his determination to deliver results for his membership. I would never have imagined that the TFG telcon would be the last time that many of us would hear our brother’s voice again.”

Torres, channeling his intense passion for aviation, also volunteered his time working special events. Last month, Torres worked with the team at Augusta ATCT (AGS) that safely handled the high traffic volume for The Masters golf tournament.

AGS member Jake Lewis said it was his first time meeting Torres, whom he said was friendly and was happy to help out the team. “He worked traffic with a smile on his face,” Lewis said. “We shared a separate commonality in cooking meat. He would share pictures of food that he had cooked and I’d show him what meat I’d be smoking in the future and what I had cooked in the past. He had an infectious personality.”

Fort Smith ATCT (FSM) member Jim Fuhrman worked with Torres last year at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. Fuhrman was a team lead and Torres was one of the rookies on the team.

“We were still working under COVID-19 rules so this was to be a challenging year,” Fuhrman said. “Normally, the teams would gather in large groups for dinner and socializing, but due to restrictions we needed to consider our six-person team as our Sun ‘n Fun family for the week.  This afforded us plenty of time to visit and get to know one another. We talked about his role as a FacRep and I could tell how passionate he was about NATCA and ‘his’ controllers at Miami Tower. Besides his passion for the workforce, he was extremely joyful and fun to be around. He enthusiastically took to night-departure procedures and found his niche. I will miss his smile and irresistibly infectious laugh, and I know NATCA will miss his passion and commitment to the cause. Blue skies and tailwinds my friend!”

Marinitti said Torres “loved aviation and actively worked to not only maintain safety but to search out ways to make it better.”

Santa said Torres “gave so much of his time to representing his members at MIA, and before that at MCO, and worked extremely hard on behalf of this Union to improve the working conditions of all controllers and the safety of the National Airspace System.”

“Like so many thousands of our members,” Santa added, “Narciso had such a deep love of all things aviation, and of flying, as evidenced by this flight on a beautiful South Florida day where he was doing what he loved. This loss hurts so deeply. Narciso will never be forgotten.”

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