- [S75] Atchley Funeral Home Records, Volume II, 1955-1973, Larry D. Fox, (Smoky Mountain Historical Society), 23 May 1965.
Paul Norman Price obituary
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 24 Feb 2008.
Jim hits semi-retirement time
(c)2008 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL Folks hoping to start a career as a truck driver can find some good training at Smokey Mtn. Trucking off Hwy. 411 between Newport and Sevierville. Russ and Nikki Singletary are also friends with Bob Love, who operates United Trucking, another training school serving Cocke County.
By: DAVID POPIEL
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Mid last week the moon was full and wind raged as if winter intends to be around in our hometown like a cold fish. February 18 was a cooler, blustery day that quickly blew away the memories of the mellow Sunday and thoughts of gardening. Fortunately, I recalled seeing an adv. and sign announcing a "semi-retirement" party for Jim Collins on Monday. He had celebrated his 78th birthday on Sunday and showed up with a spray of balloons at Suzy Q's restaurant just across the highway from the farmers co-op. Suzy Q's used to be at the East Broadway center and opened in the new location this year. You've seen Jim around with his large gray beard. Because his companion, Susan Blackwell, operates the Blackwell's Tax Service just next to us, I've seen him around a lot but didn't know much about him, other than he likes to fish. Jim was born in the textile town of Ft. Mill, South Carolina, now a suburb of Charlotte. He is also a veteran of the Korean War, having served in Germany. Jim has four children living in the Ft. Mill area. Susan is from Manassas, Virginia, and has known Jim for at least 30 years. She's the brains of the duo having earned an accountant's degree. Jim explained to me that he had operated a plumbing, heating, and electric business for most of his life and wanted to retire. They wouldn't let him so he decided it would be best just to move. About the same time, Jim and Susan met a crafter from Del Rio at a Ft. Mill festival and Cocke County sounded so good they headed this way. They rolled into Newport in 1994, and she started a tax business where L.A. Tax is located today. While Jim might sit on the hill to read and watch TV off Dahlia Road where he lives at McGaha Chapel, Susan said she would work a few more years. Traveling to Sevier County last week, I drove into Smokey Mountain Trucking Institute to see the owners, who advertise in our classified section. More than a year ago, they participated in a Workforce Investment Board function explaining how they train truck drivers, a critical need in the nation. Pauline "Nikki" Singletary and her husband, Russ, have operated the trucker training business since the early 1990s, but I really didn't know much about their backgrounds. There are several connections to Cocke County, and a Newport man is a key employee in their training program. But, unfortunately, Bobby Joe Austin was on a leave of absence. He was diagnosed last year with that rare lung disorder, mesothelioma, said to be caused by exposure to asbestos. His treatment requires him to go to the Columbia, South Carolina, Medical Center. Pauline and Russ praise his work for them and hope his treatment will be successful. He joined the Singletarys about 1993. Some of you may know that he is also a talented Gospel and country music singer, as is his sister, Juanita. How did he acquire the lung problem? Apparently he was a teenaged student at a school that was removing asbestos and must have been exposed to it. I have known a few other people in our county who worked in construction trades and pipe fitting that developed similar problems. I recall that one was the late Bill Tipton. Bobby is in charge of truck driver training and recruiting. Russ, who is safety director, said, "He is a super nice guy." They asked that his friends here keep him in their prayers. His mother is Barbara Jean Austin of Newport, and father is Gene Austin, of North Carolina. Bobby also has a daughter, Patricia, who lives in Newport. Last Monday, I chatted with Nikki again to learn Bobby is doing well after a chemotherapy treatment. She noted that he is in his 40s; about as old as her son, the late Gary Whaley, would have been had he survived cancer. Russ Singletary is originally from Sarasota, Florida. I know this area as the winter home of Ringling Brothers Circus, which would bring their hoards of entertainers and heavy elephants by train to Miami in the early 1950s where I first saw them. "I used to wake up to Lions roaring," he said. Later, he built a career in naval aviation and was stationed for a time at Key West. Pauline is a Price from Sevierville and learned to drive a truck about 1960 when her boyfriend taught her the skills. Her late husband started Whaley Trucking, which later carried the name of their late son, Gary Whaley Trucking. You still see that name on a mailbox in front of the Highway 411 business. Nikki loved the trucking industry so much she wanted to start a training school and did. Some others who help in training include a White Pine man, Mike Morie. Russ and Nikki's son, Rusty, is also an instructor. "We train people to make more money," she said. If you are making less than $10 an hour, you are considered underemployed, she said. Hundreds of people have graduated from the trucking school. She noted that where else can you get about 185 hours training and start on a job making $40-45,000 per year? Nikki mentioned that there are Cocke County couples that team drive and earn $110,000 per year. The trucking industry expects continued growth, especially as the Boomer generation retires. I have already met several such retired truckers in my wanderings around town. But, she always reminds those considering truck driving that "It's a lifestyle change." Some people are just not suited to spending countless hours alone on the highway while others thrive on it. I plan to revisit Smokey Mtn. Trucking to see Bobby and shoot some photos to share with you soon. In plain talk, the years may pile up like foothills leading to mountains, but many folks keep on trucking.
Just Plain Talk - Jim hits semi-retirement time