William Presser, 74, an influential leader in the Teamsters union for more than 50 years who retired in 1976 as an international vice president of the organizaton, died Saturday at his home in Lyndhurst after a heart attack.
Mr. Presser occasionally clashed with the government, being convicted twice in the 1960s, once for contempt of Congress and later for obstruction of justice.
The contempt of Congress charge stemmed from his refusal to answer a question before the Senate Rackets Committee in 1958. The obstruction of justice count involved mutilation of union records which had been subpoenaed by the committee.
At the 1961 Teamsters convention, during the height of Mr. Presser's trouble with Congress, the late Teamsters' President Frank Fitzsimmons yielded the chair to renominate the elder Mr. Presser for international vice president.
At the same meeting, Mr. Presser nominated current President Roy Williams for what was to be his first turn as vice president.
Mr. Presser grew up in Cleveland and began working for the Teamsters as an errand boy at age 17. He was a union organizer in the 1930s and was elected president of the Ohio Conference of Teamsters in 1952, a position he held until his death. He also led Teamsters Joint Council 41, which included most of northern Ohio.
In 1967 he was elected chairman of the Central States Pension Fund's executive committee. That election followed former Teamster President James R. Hoffa's conviction of pension fraud and jury tampering.
Reports had surfaced accusing union officials of mishandling the fund, including loans for Las Vegas hotels. Mr. Presser denied any wrongdoing in the operation of the fund and called it well-managed.
Mr. Presser also was known for his charity work. He raised funds for group homes for mentally retarded youths and established an artificial limb bank for children who lost arms or legs.
Survivors include his wife, Faye, three sons and a daughter.