Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Vietnam veteran Herman Gordon found peace as a bus driver

ST. PETERSBURG — The year after he finished 15 years with the Army, Herman Gordon got the job he had been waiting for: driving a bus.

Mr. Gordon had maintained the job would be perfect for him. His family came to believe he was right. He started in 1976, driving for what was then the St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System, the same year the system added air-conditioned buses to its fleet.

He drove up and down Central Avenue and to Tyrone Mall, carrying some of the same passengers for years. Riders found a chatty man behind the wheel who dressed up as Santa Claus during the holidays, handing out candy canes as they boarded.

Mr. Gordon, who drove public buses for 23 years, most often with a smile on his face, died March 10 at home of congestive heart failure. He was 73.

He commanded a quiet respect, said Donna Gordon, his daughter. Rambunctious teens either shaped up or were ushered off the bus.

Passengers did not know the sorrows he carried behind the banter, from images of war to the loss of his first wife.

Mr. Gordon was born in Gaffney, S.C., and moved to St. Petersburg at 19. He pumped gas at Bob Lee's Tire Co., married Sarah Terry and shipped out with the Army in 1960.

He maintained vehicles in two tours in Vietnam and said little about it when he came home. He left the army in 1975 and the next year became a city bus driver.

Sarah died in 1980 at age 55 of heart failure. The loss weighed heavy on her husband. He also suffered effects from his service in Vietnam: nightmares that violently disrupted his sleep and a skin discoloration later attributed to Agent Orange.

In 1984, the city and county bus systems merged to create the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. Mr. Gordon's routes extended to the Clearwater Mall. Sometimes he drove buses to Derby Lane, the first Buccaneers stadium and Gasparilla festivities.

The PSTA gave him at least three safe driving awards over the years. Mr. Gordon enjoyed his rapport with regular riders and getting to know them over time.

They had his back. When a pedestrian claimed Mr. Gordon's bus had hit him, the complaint fell apart after several witnesses reported what they had seen.

After a brief second marriage and divorce, Mr. Gordon met a nurse who had also been married twice. He and Marilyn married in 1993 and lived on St. Pete Beach, where they shared a passion for cultivating roses.

"The third time is a charm, I guess," his daughter said.

But poor health forced his retirement from the PSTA in 1999. He and his wife traveled the country in a motor home, bringing back rose bushes from as far away as Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Mr. Gordon's other joys included gin rummy games several times a week and chance encounters with former riders from his routes who recognized him and said hello.

They thanked him for being a consistently pleasant presence in their lives.

In 2010, the Gordons drove to Virginia despite his heart problems and her cancer. The VA awarded Mr. Gordon disability status that year due to his exposure to Agent Orange, his daughter said.

The couple limited their traveling to weekend jaunts to places like Fort De Soto. Then Marilyn died in August, making Mr. Gordon a two-time widower.

"I said, 'You're hard on women,'" his daughter said. He laughed, but jokes could only go so far.

By November, Mr. Gordon's health worsened noticeably. His daughter moved him to St. Petersburg.

He died at home under hospice care.

"He had a full life," his daughter said. "He really did."

Bushes of red and white roses the couple collected survive, some in pots and others growing in front of their house.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Y...
Updated: 14 minutes ago

Hernando Government Meetings for Dec. 15

Here is a listing of public meetings scheduled for this week:MondayBrooksville City Council, 7 p.m., council chambers, City Hall, 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville.TuesdayBrooksville Housing Authority Board Meeting, 5 p.m. council chambers, City Hall, 201...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff to announce findings of excessive force investigation

Pinellas sheriff to announce findings of excessive force investigation

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will announce Wednesday the findings of an internal investigation sparked by dashboard camera video that appears to show deputies beating, choking and yanking the hair of a 25-year-old man during an arrest.Gualti...
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Hernando briefs for Dec. 15

COUNTYWIDEDriver safety programAARP Driver Safety Program classes are available at various locations. The cost for each six-hour course is $15 for AARP members (bring membership card) and $20 for non-members. These classes are scheduled in January:• ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago

St. Petersburg police make several arrests in death of woman, 22, found in alley

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have made a series of arrests in connection to the death investigation of a 22-year-old woman whose body was found in alley last December.Investigators said over the course of the last year they learned that the woman, Taylor ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago

Hernando Bloodmobile for Dec. 15

LifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.Dec. 15: 7:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m., Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St., south of Brooksville; 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Her...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Hernando Business Digest for Dec. 15

EventsDISCOUNT OFFERED TO THOSE WHO DONATE TO HELP HOMELESS: In advance of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, BonWorth clothing store, 12987 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill, will offer a 10 percent discount on purchases to those who donate unwanted c...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Greg Auman has an update in his latest podcast while the Bucs have two days off during the long week,Riley Bullough gets promoted to the active roster, Gerald McCoy says he still wants to play this season, and the defensive line gives 75 local famili...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Target aims to boost same-day delivery by acquiring Shipt

Target aims to boost same-day delivery by acquiring Shipt

NEW YORK — Target plans to boost its same-day delivery capability by paying $550 million for Shipt, its latest move to try to catch up with Amazon. Shipt delivers groceries to its members, who pay $99 a year. Target says it will add more products to...
Updated: 1 hour ago