I think the history of Bill Gill and railroads must have begun with a Christmas present I received from my parents when I was 6 years old. It was a model Union Pacific streamliner and a circle of track. So, I guess we can blame the UP. Not long after that, my dad - after supper – would often drive us out to a good vantage point to observe several of the famed NYC passenger fleet on their approach to Toledo's Central Union Terminal. Wow!
Later, during college years I had almost a year in Death Valley as resident minister and Ranger. Part of my work was to research the Death Valley RR, the Tonopah & Tidewater RR and the Bullfrog-Goldfield RR. (I learned a lot about "20 Mule Team" Borax!) While involved in post-graduate work in Nashville TN, I worked as the all-night Ticket Agent for the Louisville & Nashville RR. Much later, after a return to Toledo, I was a switchman for the C&O in Walbridge, OH. I also took time to volunteer with the Waterfront Electric
RR and Toledo Angola & Western RR. I helped out in the Rail Travel Center, then with an office in the NYC Terminal. That's when I heard about the Ohio Assoc. of RR Passengers. Thanks to Bill Hutchison (!) I soon became active in the local group. When I retired from my work with NPR/PBS in Toledo, I offered to do more. Bill appointed me "Regional Coordinator." Several people really helped me direct my endeavors: along with Bill, Tom Pulsifer, Howard Harding, Ed DAmato, Mark Carlson, Ken Prendergast, Stu Nicholson, and Tom Galloway. Friends outside of AAO: Frank Stoy, Bob Grogan, Derrick James, and Dave Kuhn from Amtrak, Rob Greenlese from the Toledo – Lucas County Port Authority, Diane Reamer-Evans from TMACOG. Steve Rathke (NS), Jerry Wicks (BGSU) and others were also influential in this time of my life. My mentors taught me that we all needed to be a reasonable, accurate/truthful voice (advocate) for more and better rail passenger service - and connecting services. Fortunately, my wife, Beth, was agreeable to be my helpmate in all this!
During much of this time, I served as a member of the Board of the NRHS and appointed as a member of the Council of the RPA (NARP) from Ohio.
A major project loomed on the horizon with Amtrak's plan for a "National Train Day." I got interested in how it could be mutually beneficial if we could partner with them. I approached Diane and she agreed. I Chaired the local effort for 13 years. The rest is history with TMACOG and the Port active supporters. Other AAO activities I promoted include rail excursions to Cleveland, Bryan and Chicago. I volunteered as a speaker – often with Tim Porter, Chair of NOPRA - at numerous organizations’ meetings - frequently in cooperation with Amtrak or TMACOG. I asked and received help in securing work/meeting space from TMACOG and later the Port. We've been blessed to work cooperatively with NOPRA, MARP, the Toledo-Lucas County Library, Toledo History Museum, the city (Council) and Commissioners, the BLE&T Union and other Union organizations.
I hope to continue to encourage and give an opportunity locally to members to express opinions and suggestions and take part in local, state and national endeavors relative to our mission.
I DO look forward to ease into retirement from what at times is a hectic life. Together with my wife, I’ve continued to be involved with special devotional services at area retirement and nursing homes. But, slowing down is on my agenda.