(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
The Durand Railroad Days Committee recently named Durand resident Neil Randall as the 2016 Railroad Person of the Year. Randall worked in the railroading industry for 40 years with the GTW/CN Railroads before retiring in 2010. Randall spent most of those years between the Durand and Flint locations, working as a clerk, yardman, and in engine service. He says his first job with the railroad, back in 1970, was sweeping Durand Union Station.
Since retiring, Randall has spent a lot of time giving back to his community as a Durand AmVet and Lioness office holder, and as a Durand Eagle member and Depot volunteer. He and his wife, Debby, are both Durand High School graduates, Neil in 1968 and Debby in 1969, and all three of their children graduated from the local school as well.
Additionally, the Randalls enjoy traveling, and Neil is a fishing enthusiast. The couple will travel to Canada and Nashville this year; and their other favorite out-of-state destinations are Memphis and Myrtle Beach. Both Neil and Debby are children of the railroad, as Debby’s father and Neil’s father, uncle, and grandfather are veterans of the line. The couple will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this June 5.
Neil is thrilled to be named Railroad Person of the Year, especially since he is a lifelong Durand Railroader.
“I was born a Railroader and I have called this place home for my entire life,” Neil said Wednesday. “And they say, ‘When you work for the railroad, you become a railroader for life.’ I spent more time on the railroad than with my family, it seemed, so everyone on the railroad becomes family after awhile. That’s what I enjoyed most about my time with the railroad.”
Durand Union Station, Inc. will hold a special ceremony for Randall Friday, May 13 in the upstairs ballroom of the Depot, and the public is invited to attend. Randall will also ride in the Railroad Days parade on Saturday before being honored again Saturday afternoon with a more personal family reception.