Railroader loved his career

From age 16, trains and the railroad were his life.

Ella Weidman of Canton said her father, the late Zollie Cole, worked with Mr. McCarley for decades. For him, railroad work was a joy, not just a job.

"[Jack] thought the rail yard was a wonderful place to be," she said. "He liked the people and he was well-liked."

Mr. McCarley's railroad career spanned more than 40 years. He retired in 1998 from CSX Transportation but had logged time with predecessors like the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, among others. He held various roles but primarily worked as a switch-engine foreman.

And he loved it, said his son, Dr. J. Britt McCarley of Yorktown, Va.

"He is the only person I have ever known who always said he enjoyed going to work every day that he went," his son said. "He had the opportunity to work the 'main line,' as he called it, but he didn't want to be away from home."

Jack Ward McCarley, 76, of Newport News, Va., and formerly of Atlanta, died July 3 from complications of a stroke. The funeral is 11 a.m. today at North Side Baptist Church in Bladenboro, N.C. Bladen-Gaskins Funeral Home & Cremations of Elizabethtown, N.C., is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. McCarley was born in Tallassee, Ala. When his parents divorced, he moved with his mother and brother to Atlanta in 1942. The family lived in Little Five Points, Adair Park and West End. He attended Brown High School in Atlanta and was drafted into the Army Medical Corps. He served with the 48th Surgical/128th Evacuation Hospital from 1953 to 1955. He earned the National Defense Service Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal for service with the unit in Brandt, Germany. After the military, he returned to Tilford Yard.

Mr. McCarley was disheartened by the decline of passenger rail service. He considered trains a great means of inexpensive transportation, his son said, and thought the industry's demise was a disservice to the public.

"He thought rail service was economical and efficient and a good way to get to long distances," he said. "He didn't dislike cars and trucks but he was enamored of passenger rail service."

As a child, Mr. McCarley also had been fascinated with aviation. He watched airplanes come and go from the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama. As an adult, he earned his pilot's license and owned Cessna planes, either outright or in partnerships with friends. He would fly to Bladenboro, N.C., to ferry his daughter, Candice H. Williams, and her children to Atlanta for a visit. "He did that any number of times," Mrs. Williams said. Metro Atlanta was Mr. McCarley's home for 60 years; he raised his own family in Mableton. In 2002, he moved to Bladenboro, N.C., to be near his daughter. Three years later, he relocated to Virginia to be near his son.

Additional survivors include five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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