PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SUBMIT A MEMORIAL / TRIBUTE FOR INCLUSION ON THIS PAGE.
REMEMBERING CHARLIE F. ALEXANDER (Southwestern Greyhound Lines)
CHARLIE F. ALEXANDER was born in 1904 and first moved to Amarillo, Texas in 1927. He went to work for Southwestern Greyhound Lines in 1933 and retired in 1966 after driving for 33 years. He died on Sunday, October 3, 1999 in Amarillo, aged 95.
REMEMBERING JACOB ATLEE ARMACOST (Blue Ridge Lines/Greyhound Lines)
JACOB ATLEE ARMACOST began driving for the Blue Ride Lines back in 1936, which was headquartered in Hagerstown, Maryland. Mr. Armacost was remembered for his dedication to his job and his company. In 1951 he was awarded his fifteen-year safe driving pin at Potomac Edison Company’s annual dinner, the PEC being the parent company of the Blue Ridge Lines. In 1955 The Greyhound corporation bought the Blue Ridge Lines and hired most of the company’s drivers, who retained their seniority and pensions. Mr. Armacost was among those drivers who made the move, and in 1956 he received a 20-year gold service pin from Greyhound. He retired from Greyhound in 1961. Jacob A. Armacost was born on Nov. 14, 1899 in Baltimore County, Maryland to John H. and Rosa (Palmer) Armacost. He died on Wednesday morning July 21, 1976, in Baltimore and was buried in the Mount Zion United Methodist Church Cemetery in Upperco, Maryland. He was survived by a daughter, Joyce Gray of Virginia Beach, Va.
REMEMBERING MARY AUDISH (Beaumont City Lines / Beaumont, TX)
MARY AUDISH was born May 25, 1913, to Mike and Bettie Audish in Brenham, Texas. At an early age she moved to Beaumont, Texas where she spent the rest of her life. “During World War II, when young men were called to serve in the military for our country, Mary, like so many women, answered the need to fill the positions left vacant by these service men. She began working at Beaumont City Lines as a city bus driver. She continued in this role for over 10 years. During her tenure, she was cited many times both public and in print by her passengers for her friendly, courteous and kind service. Many long and cherished friendships developed through the years from these acquaintances.” Mary “was a deeply religious person, always faithful to her Christian upbringing. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living member of St. Michaels Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Beaumont, TX. She had a very special devotion to the Archangel Michael her entire life.” Mary Audish died peacefully at her home on Saturday, September 8, 2012, at age 99. (Published in the The Beaumont Enterprise on Sept. 9, 2012.)
REMEMBERING DORIS CONDER THOMSON (Daviess County Schools / Kentucky)
Doris Conder was born on September 1, 1947, to Jody and Ethel Wright Conder in Whitesville, Daviess County, Kentucky, and was one of 16 children. Doris drove a school bus for Daviess County Board of Education for more than 25 years and was beloved by generations of children. She was was preceded in death by her parents, three brothers, Louis Conder, Vince Conder and Charles Conder and one sister, Barbara Conder Roberts. She is survived by her husband, Joe Thomson; a daughter, Keisha Chism and a son, Bryan Hamilton. (Personal note from Darrell: Doris Conder’s father was a third cousin to my paternal grandfather.)
REMEMBERING DOROTHY FROST (Jefferson Transit / Jefferson County, WA)
DOROTHY ANN OTIS FROST, born on May 17, 1933, was hired by Jeff Hamm, general manager of Jefferson Transit, on April 4, 1983, as a driver. For the next 16 years Dorothy did what she loved best: driving a bus and talking with her passengers. She made that clear when she was interviewed for a history of Jefferson Transit on November 29, 2013:
“I drove for Jefferson Transit for over 16 years, starting in 1983, when our ‘depot’ was on Monroe in the old brewery. At that time we checked our own oil, pumped fuel at several places along our routes, drove to Sequim and Brinnon, and in spite of our rather ‘primitive’ procedures, my feelings were (and still are) that Jefferson Transit is the best little transit in Small Town, USA. I’m now retired and it’s 2013. I miss the camaraderie with the drivers, the relationships built between my riders and me, the glorious sunrises on the morning runs, the activity on the Hood Canal Bridge when traffic was stopped for high-masted sail boats and submarines to pass through. (When JT made a pact with Kitsap Transit, we incorporated two-a-day trips to Poulsbo.) I loved that route and had it for 6-7 years. It would take a book to relate what I experienced and yes, loved about this job.”
What Dorothy didn’t mention in her interview was how many sacrifices she made for her passengers, many of whom became something of an extended family for her. She didn’t tell about how she came upon an traffic accident on her run to Sequim and ended up saving a life with CPR. Dorothy’s compassion and giving was why, when she retired on June 24, 1999, the Port Townsend Jefferson County Leader ran a full page as a tribute, which the reporter titled “Driving With Dorothy”.
Dorothy Frost died on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at her home in Port Townsend, Washington at age 84 after a long battle with cancer.
REMEMBERING MARK F. McLAUGHLIN (Seattle Metro / Seattle, WA)
It’s been nineteen years, but many bus drivers and citizens in the Pacific Northwest still remember the senseless murder of Seattle Metro driver Mark McLaughlin while driving his bus in the afternoon of November 27, 1998, the day after Thanksgiving. We remember Mark on this page because on that day he sacrificed his life to save 32 of his passengers. Let’s go back to that time and tell his story.
On a typical Washington November day at approximately 3:10 in the afternoon Mark was driving his route 359 Express 60-foot articulated bus south on Aurora Avenue toward downtown Seattle. He was approaching Aurora Bridge, which crosses the Lake Union Ship Canal, cruising at a speed of 50 miles per hour when a passenger, without any warning, shot Mark with a .380 handgun. Investigators believe that Mark intentionally steered his bus hard left to avoid plunging 167 feet into Lake Union, which would have killed everyone on board. The bus crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic, took out two sections of guardrail and plunged 50 feet off the east side of the bridge where it fell onto a two story apartment building roof. Investigators concluded that hitting the building cushioned the bus’s plunge, allowing 32 out of 33 passengers to survive.
Although a 69 year-old passenger was killed in the crash, 32 others were spared death by Mark’s actions. But Mark wasn’t so fortunate. Mark McLaughlin died after being thrown through the bus’s windshield and onto the apartment building’s roof.
Later, Metro General Manager Rick Walsh released some detail of what happened that day: the killer had been seated in the first seat next to the door and across from the driver. Unprovoked and with no indication of what was coming, he simply fired two shots at Mark. No one knows why he did it, nor will they ever know, since the murderer turned his gun on himself at some point during those last moments.
Eleven days later Mark was remembered by his fellow Metro drivers, and countless others from around the state. On December 8th bus service came to a halt in downtown Seattle as a procession of some 80 buses from all over western Washington slowly traveled down 4th Avenue to Key Arena for a memorial service.
At Key Arena, Mark’s bus, which had been repaired and cleaned, was waiting. His photograph and jacket were placed in the driver’s seat and purple ribbons were placed on 32 passengers’ seats. A black ribbon was place on a seat for Norman Liebelt, the passenger who was killed. The memorial ended when a Metro dispatcher called for driver 2106, Mark’s Metro I.D. number; it went unanswered.
Mark McLaughlin was born on June 13, 1954, was a veteran of the U.S. Army and had been a driver for Metro since August 1979. He left behind two sons: Brad, age 16, and Joe, age 14.
REMEMBERING JOHN DEAN PARKER (Greyhound Lines / Jefferson Transit)
When John Dean Parker passed away on February 20, 2005, at the age of 96, he left behind a life full of giving. As a resident of Jefferson County, Washington, Mr. Parker helped to organize various civil groups and belonged to several organizations, including the North Olympic Fruit Club in Jefferson County. (He was a skilled orchardist and once developed an apple tree with 35 varieties.) Mr. Parker served as a commissioner with the Jefferson County Fire District No. 3 from 1983 to 1995, was a member of the Tri-Area Community Center and Jefferson County Library boards and played a part in an effort to rescind the Washington state inheritance tax. In the 1980s, he was appointed by then-Jefferson County Sheriff Lee Smith as the first community service officer and he served on the President’s Council on Aging during President Reagan’s term in the White House.
And then there was his career as a Greyhound Lines bus driver.
For thirty-six years John Dean Parker drove the highways of Washington and surrounding states delivering passengers safety to countless destinations—and it was more than just driving. Mr. Parker cared deeply about people and riding with him was always a pleasant experience. He also also cared about his fellow employees. While with Greyhound, he organized the Greyhound employees’ union and pension fund, and thus earned the respect of his fellow Greyhound employees. Perhaps this public transit background is why John Dean Parker played such a vital role in providing the citizens of Jefferson County, Washington a much-needed public transit system.
Jefferson County had been without a public transit system since H. J. Carroll’s failed Townsend Transit venture back in 1949-1951, and John Dean Parker, for one, thought the time was long over due to rectify the situation. In 1980 Parker, with the help of former Port Townsend school superintendent Gael R. Stuart and some notable politicians, set the wheels in motion. Their first success was to get a federal grant to set up a temporary transit agency, and while this was up and running to get a sale tax measure on the ballot so that the citizens of Jefferson County could have a permanent agency. The sales tax measure passed and the end result was the formation of Jefferson Transit, which still operates today.
John Dean Parker was born to Fremont Scott and Jesse Elizabeth (Smythe) Parker in Tacoma, Washington on January 9, 1909. He graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle and in 1928 entered the U.S. Naval Reserve from whence he received an honorable discharge on April 2, 1932. In his “off time” he was a mechanic—building a Model T Ford from junk parts at age 18—and enjoyed singing, dancing, writing, speaking, fishing, hunting and beekeeping.
John Dean Parker was preceded in death by his first wife was Esther Martha Hinke, who passed away in 1972. He was survived by his second wife, Frieda G. Blake Jones, whom he married at his home in Port Ludlow on Sept. 21, 1974. He was also survived by sons and daughters-in-law Vaughn Eugene and Patricia Kay Hainstock Parker of Seattle, and Kerry Dean and Sharon Heraldson Parker of Ellensburg; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
On Sunday, March 13, 1:30 p.m., a celebration of life and open mic was held at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road, Chimacum. The Rev. Duane Weinmeister officiated.
REMEMBERING WILLIAM GRAHAM WEAKLEY (Los Angeles public transit advocate)
Public transit employees are, for the most part, a wonderful lot. But let’s face it: without riders they wouldn’t have a job! To be sure, 99% of public transit users take the service for granted—but, there are a few notable exceptions. For a variety of reasons, there are those rare individuals who actually get involved in supporting public transit, and it is these unsung heroes who help make so many agencies a success. One of those exceptional citizens was William Graham Weakley.
Graham Weakley was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas on August 13, 1942, to William Robert Weakley and Helen Graham Weakley. He attended Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and later graduated from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma majoring in Asian studies from which he received a graduate fellowship to study in Seoul, South Korea. Graham became a talented Korean language linguist and lived in Seoul for ten years where he became an art critic and writer for the Korea Times newspaper. After returning to the United States in 1974, he worked for the Korea Exchange Bank in Los Angeles, California, for FEMA as an interpreter, and a Korean language instructor at Pasadena Community College and the Yonsei University Language Institute, and worked as a translator at a local television station. Graham was also a gifted pianist and had, on numerous occasions, performed for large audiences in the Los Angeles area. Graham was also an avid user and vocal advocate of the old Southern California Rapid Transit District, or RTD. Even though he owned a classic 1960 Studebaker Hawk, Graham’s usual mode of transportation was the ever-reliable RTD bus for his various needs. Indeed, he was a master at figuring out the company’s somewhat complicated bus routes and schedules. However, the most outstanding thing about Graham Weakley was that he was a genteel, soft-spoken human being who found good in everyone—and I mean that quite literally! This gentle soul quietly left us on the night of October 26-27, 2012, in his Los Angeles home.
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