(USA Today) -- James Riddle Hoffa, the legendary but controversial labor leader, was president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958-1971.
He was born in 1913 in Brazil, Ind. The third of four children, his father was a coal-mine driller who died when Hoffa was 7. His mother moved the family to Detroit in 1924, where she worked in a laundry and in auto plants.
Hoffa, a seventh-grade dropout, became a stocker at Frank & Cedar's, a downtown Detroit department store. At age 16, he got a job at a Kroger warehouse at Fort and Green, unloading produce from rail cars for 32 cents an hour.
In 1931, at age 18, the feisty Hoffa organized a successful sit-down strike that got dock workers better pay. The next year, he became an organizer for the Teamsters and worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming president of Local 299 in Detroit.
In 1936, Hoffa married Josephine Poszywak.
Hoffa became Teamsters international vice president in 1952, and five years later, he was elected president.
Under his leadership, the Teamsters grew into a potent labor force. In 1964, he signed the National Master Freight Contract, the first national trucking contract, requiring freight companies to pay drivers the same rate regardless of where they worked.
In 1964, the same year Hoffa signed the national trucking contract, he was convicted in separate trials of jury tampering and misusing union pension funds. In 1967, he began serving a 13-year sentence at the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa.
In June 1971, he resigned his Teamsters presidency.
In December 1971, President Richard Nixon commuted Hoffa's sentence on the condition he stay out of union activities until 1980. Insisting that the commutation he signed didn't contain the union ban, Hoffa filed a federal appeal in hopes of regaining the Teamsters presidency.
On July 30, 1975, Hoffa vanished from the parking lot of a Bloomfield Township restaurant, where he had gone to make peace with a New Jersey mobster. Hoffa was never found.
His son, James Philip Hoffa, was elected international Teamsters president in 1998.