Recently I had the privilege to attend a retirement luncheon for a gentleman I worked with at Conrail on the Delair Bridge Project. Gary Golden was retiring after 36 years of service, finishing a long career in the Bridge & Building department. From my limited time with Gary I found he was always a courteous and professional figure on the outages, he never once hesitated to help us with some outrageous production request or wait until the first train came through hours after an outage had been finished. Over the two plus years I have been working with Conrail I came to realize that Gary’s outlook on the job was not the exception but the norm. Confirmation of this came through informal conversations during the event with both current and retired Conrail vets and the speeches that caused even the most rugged men in the room to tear up. Senior staff from the engineering department were present and Assistant Chief Engineer Eric Levin said it best, that, “working at Conrail is like being part of a tight knit community, a family that looks after one another day in and day out while taking pride in keeping the trains moving.” The many people before and after Gary represent a time-honored tradition that helped develop our country and keep people and goods moving through times of conflict and peace. Additionally railroaders of Gary’s era are part of a generation that lived through the biggest turn-around in US rail history rising from the ashes of bankruptcy in the 1970s, rebuilding the network tie by tie. With Gary and the many others that will follow into retirement, another generation of knowledge will turn over, but the understanding and traditions of the “way it used to be” will go with them. For Mr. Golden and the many like him, thank you, while you may not know it, your outlook on the job has likely provided insight to an outsider of the pride common in the ranks of railroad employees.
Best of luck Gary!