With two children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, 73-year-old Veronica Longwith has made the decision to take to the open road as she pursues a commercial truck driving career at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
Currently from Summerville, Ga., Ms. Longwith is originally from a military family and doesn’t really claim a hometown. However, the soon-to-be long-haul trucker was born in Brooklyn, NY on March 20, 1943. Her parents, Edna Mae and Jack London Moore, are long-deceased, as is her only brother, Gerard.
“He’s the reason I left the trucking world the first time,” said Ms. Longwith. That’s right, the silver-haired trucker has already worked on the open road from 1987-92 with Reeves Transportation in Calhoun, Ga. and DonCo Trucking out of Oklahoma City, Ok.
“My first time around, I found a local company out of Chattanooga that offered training for truck drivers. With me raising a young daughter at the time, I found it easiest to take their weekend classes all day Saturday and Sunday for three months.”
On the last day of class, Ms. Longwith got her license and was ready to begin orientation with Reeves. “After finishing all of my training in Chattanooga, my first job with Reeves had me hauling carpet and flooring out of Dalton, Ga. to terminals all across the United States,” said Ms. Longwith. “I did that job for about five years and loved every minute of it.”
But, it was family that saw Ms. Longwith take her hiatus from a career she enjoyed and concentrate her efforts on caring for her only brother. “Gerard got very sick and I needed to stay closer to home and take care of him when he really needed some help,” said Ms. Longwith. “It was a phone call out of the blue back in 1992. He told me about how bad his health had become and that the problems he was now facing would probably be fatal. I needed to be home.”
After his passing, Ms. Longwith owned and operated a couple of businesses. Then, she made the decision to return to commercial truck driving 24 years after her first stint as a big rig driver. Married once before, the now single senior had nothing but time and the open road ahead of her. So, this past winter, she enrolled into GNTC’s ten-week Commercial Truck Driving program in Walker County, Ga.
When asked what her family thought of this decision to be a commercial truck driver one more time, it was her son who was first to find out. “I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it,” said Ms. Longwith as she smiled. “He happened to see me on the highway one morning and saw me pull into the main entrance for GNTC. That’s when I realized that I’d need to tell him. He wasn’t happy about my decision. But, I’m really happy about it.” Her son, Patrick Clark, 52, works for Northwest Georgia Power out of Summerville, Ga. Also, her daughter, Jennifer Clark, is a 44-year-old cosmetologist from Knoxville.
Ms. Longwith first broke into the industry at the age of 44-years-young. “The father of a girlfriend of mine first told me about the trucking industry back in the mid-1980’s and it sounded very exciting,” said Ms. Longwith. “And now, nearly 30 years later, I’m coming back to trucking.”
With many of the students in GNTC’s Commercial Truck Driving industry being nearly 50 years younger than Ms. Longwith, she has had a lot of wisdom for the newcomers. “I’ve tried to tell them throughout the program that you really have to have a passion for this or you won’t last long in it at all,” said Ms. Longwith. “Like a lot of advice, I’m not sure if the younger people listen. I know I didn’t at that age. But, they’ve been good classmates and we’ve learned a lot from each other.”
Ms. Longwith has already been pre-hired with Dart Transit Company. Provided she passes her testing, she would take part in the company’s next orientation program beginning May 9. From there, she would go to Indiana for on-the-road training with the company as soon as the very next week.
For more information on Commercial Truck Driving at Georgia Northwestern, contact them at 706-764-3698. Or, you can contact the main line at GNTC at 866-983-4682 (GNTC).