MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Gary Rodrigue arrived at his retirement party Thursday night blindfolded and wearing red underwear.
The blindfold, of course, was intended to keep him from determining where he was being lead by wife Marilyn. The red underwear? Well, you’ll have to ask Marilyn about that. But it should be noted he was fully and appropriately clothed above said underwear.
Gary Rodrigue (right) is congratulated by emcee Mike McCarron, after a 50-year career in the industry.
About 125 people attended the dinner, which as emcee Mike McCarron noted is an impressive turnout for any function, let alone a surprise party that can’t be publicized. It was hosted by the Delta Nu Alpha Transportation Network, which spent months working on the details. When the blindfold was removed, Rodrigue was genuinely moved by the turnout.
“What an amazing, amazing sight this is for me, to look out over this group of people who have been my friends, my mentors, my teachers and my cohorts,” he would say later.
Bill Clark of Apex/Western Canada Express was the first of the formal speakers. He recounted Rodrigue’s career in the trucking industry, which began in Montreal as a teenager. Rodrigue moved to Ontario and joined Kingsway Transport in 1967 and spent 26 years with the company before moving to Manitoulin Transport for a short time and then being lured back to Toronto by Thomson Terminals, where he spent 21 years and closed out his career.
Jim Thomson, founder and president of Thomson Terminals remembers how the two met. It was at the Ontario Highway Transport Board, prior to deregulation.
“I was there applying for a Class D authority for Richards Delivery Service and Gary was working for Kingsway, opposing our application,” Thomson recalled. He went on to thank Rodrigue for his enormous contributions to the company.
Other speakers included: Art Sills, McKevitt Trucking; Stacey Jenkins, Thomson Terminals; and Margaret Hogg, J.G. Drapeau.
“The reality of being in the business and chasing skids for 50 years is frankly, mind-boggling,” McCarron said.
Rodrigue said he hopes to land a job with a local golf course and will spend some of his free time volunteering with the Humane Society. And with that revelation, he delivered the final zinger of the night.
“I thought I’d like to give back to the animal community…since I’ve lived with the animal community for so long.”
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies