top of page



James T. Roddy

All Aboard: Meet James T. Roddy, Railroad Person of the Year 2024!

     Jump aboard the locomotive of Jim’s life, a journey filled with rails, tales, and a whole lot of family tradition. Picture this: It's June 27, 1947, and Jim is born smack dab into a family where "railroading" isn't just a job—it's practically in their DNA.

     Jim's family tree reads like a railroad timetable: grandpa, dad, uncle, brother—all aboard! Even his son punched a ticket in the railway world for a while. Growing up just a stone's throw away from the old Roundhouse in Durand, Michigan, Jim's childhood was a steam engine symphony, with train whistles for lullabies.

     Fast forward to '65, Jim's graduation year. Instead of heading off to some desk job, he punches his ticket to ride with the Grand Trunk Western as a brakeman. Sure, his Grandpa had a hook-up at GM, but Jim had a one-track mind: he wanted to keep the family tradition rolling. But, there’s a plot twist! Uncle Sam calls and Jim spends a couple of years in the Army's Railroad Battalion at Fort Eustis, Virginia – getting some real on-the-job training.

     Upon returning to civilian life, Jim crossed paths with the love of his life, Joan Marie Shippee of Owosso, in the fall of 1968. Four years later, in 1972, they exchanged vows, marking the beginning of a 52-year journey together. Their union blessed them with three children—Eric, Jamie, and Kimberly—all of whom remain deeply connected to their parents to this day.

     Jim's conductor career became a whirlwind tour of Michigan—Pontiac, Detroit, Bay City, Muskegon—you name it. On the railroad, Jim says he felt like a modern-day explorer, venturing through the industrial landscapes across Michigan and watching it change over the years. And did Jim love his job? You bet your caboose he did! Jim had a front-row seat to the changing scenery of both the countryside and the cities, flexible hours, good pay, and a crew that felt more like family (well, except for a couple of grumpy old-timers). It was a dream job on wheels!

     But like any story, there were challenges along the way. Jim faced several close calls, such as nearly losing a finger due to a snagged wedding ring and sustaining a back injury when he was unexpectedly knocked off a moving train during a snowstorm. Though he initially feared for his legs, it turned out to be a back injury instead. Despite the bumps, Jim stayed on track, riding out the changes in the industry as a seasoned conductor. From the rise and fall of Durand's railroad hub to the ever-evolving technology, Jim saw it all.

     Now in retirement, Jim's still got that twinkle in his eye when he talks about his railroad days. He’s now enjoying his golden years surrounded by family, cheering on his grandsons at their sporting events, and diving into his passions for history and health.

     So here's to James T. Roddy, a man who made the railroad his playground, his workplace, and his passion. He say’s, “it's been one heck of a ride!”

DURAND UNION STATION, INC. Sponsor of the 2024 RAILROAD PERSON OF THE YEAR award is requesting nominations for this annual award Nominations must be received no later than February 7th, 2024 at 10am, to be considered at the February 7th meeting of the selection committee.
Nominations will not be accepted after this deadline. To qualify the individual nominated may presently be working, or must have worked, for a railroad company from our surrounding area. Community and church service will also be a consideration. More than one person may submit a nomination for a specific individual.
This year’s nominations, along with nominations from 2023, will be reviewed by the selection committee.
The person chosen for the 2024 Railroad Person of the Year award will receive a plaque at an Honoring Ceremony on Friday, May 17th, in the Durand Union Station ballroom. The Honoring Ceremony will be planned by committee members, and all news articles about the person selected as Railroad Person of the Year will also be the responsibility of the committee. The honoree will also ride in the Railroad Days Festival Parade on Saturday, May 18th.
Nomination forms may be dropped off in the office at the Depot or mailed to: Durand Union Station P.O. Box 106 Durand, MI 48429

RRPoY 2024
Nomination Form

Thank you for your nomination! The committee decides in February and will announce in March.

bottom of page