Family and friends gathered beside the railroad tracks with banners, cameras and a shiny steam engine bell in downtown Springfield last Wednesday as Marty Deloach brought his freight train to a halt.
After working for Norfolk Southern for 32 years, Deloach, 60, an engineer, took his last ride from Macon to Savannah. He was all smiles as he came down from his car to hug and kiss his wife, Diane Deloach. Marty and Diane have been married for 39 years and have lived in Clyo that whole time. She has worked as an administrative secretary for the Board of Education for 20 years.
They have two children: Jamie Deloach, who is a branch manager at Citizens Bank, and Cathy Pevey, who is an assistant principal at Effingham County High School.
Marty had been running the line from Macon to Savannah for about 20 years and he was the representative for his union, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, for 12 years.
Every Monday, Marty would get up around 4 a.m., pick up his pre-packed lunch and head for Savannah.
“He’s a very meticulous lunch packer and he has it ready to go out the door,” said Diane. He would come back Wednesday afternoon and spend time with his family and catch up on all the things he needed to do during the week.
“Catch-up time. That’s what he’s looking forward to: being able to do everything he wants to do without being in a hurry,” said Diane of her husband’s retirement plans.
The steam engine bell was rung by John, 4, and Elizabeth, 3, Arnsdorff, whose parents are Ashley and Allison Arnsdorff of Guyton. It has a long history with the family and the railroad. The bell was originally presented to Elmo Bird Shearouse of Guyton when he retired as market manager for government from Norfolk Southern Railroad in Washington, D.C. after 45 years of service. Shearouse was brother-in-law to Emory Arnsdorff of Guyton, who is Marty Deloach’s uncle.
Arnsdorff encouraged Deloach to apply for work at the railroad, where he was first hired in 1978.
Marty and Diane have a place on the Savannah River where they will spend more time boating and fishing.
Marty is also looking forward to being active in his church, Bethel Lutheran.
“He truly loved his job, but (he’s) ready for family time,” said Diane.