This week’s 52 Ancestors prompt is Transportation. My entry this week is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015 about William Kenneth HEISER Sr., my first cousin, once removed.
William was born 19 Feb 1916 in Frederick County, Maryland. He was the oldest of the three children born to Joseph Henry HEISER Jr. and Mary Virginia DRONENBURG HEISER. William had a typical upbringing. He learned to play the piano, and at times he accompanied his sister when she sang at women’s meetings and such in their home county of Frederick County, Maryland. William graduated high school, and he was a pallbearer at his grandmother’s funeral.
After high school William worked as a laborer at a distillery near Baltimore, Maryland. In 1935 and in April 1940, William was living in Ellicott City, Howard County, Maryland according to the U.S. Census.
On the 1940 census, 24-year old William is married to Gladys Larue “Larue” NAUMAN HEISER. Their son, William, Jr. in listed on the census. Daughter Judith was born after 1940, so she is not listed on this census.
But in October of 1950, William was living in Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland according to his World War II draft registration. He worked for Frankfort Distillery in Dundalk, Maryland. William was 5’11” tall and weight 145 lbs. He had grey eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. I hadn’t seen his World War II draft registration before today.
Not So Ordinary Anymore
Life became less ordinary for William starting in 1949, six years after he got a job driving a truck for Davidson Transfer and Storage Co. of Baltimore. William was 33 in 1949.
William was an awesome truck driver. So awesome that he won first in his class in the Highway Safety Week truck driving competition several times and went on to compete in the National Roadeo Finals in New York several times as well.
A newspaper article in 1956 said 40-year old William had entered the Roadeo competition for nine years, winning the State title eight times and placing second and third in the national competitions. William drove a single-axle semi-trailer.
These competitions were about more than driving. ‘The driver had to take a written examination on rules of the road, first aid, and the trucking industry.’
William also had to ‘pass a skill test which included parking the vehicle with only four feet to spare, backing to a loading dock with six inches to spare, weaving a 39-foot truck through a serpentine course with barrels placed 20 feet apart, and driving through parallel rows of golf balls on tees.’
Driver of the Year
In 1954, William was presented with the Driver Of The Year award by the Maryland Truck Association.
They based their decision on William having won the state and national championships several times, his 9 ½ years of driving without a chargeable accident, his frequent radio and television appearances on behalf of the trucking industry; and a series of safety talks delivered to Boy Scout troops and similar groups, on a voluntary basis.
The Rest of the Story As I Know It
William and Larue divorced, and William married a second time to Ethel Laura GREEN BILLINGS around 1960. I’ve only found a few documents about William after 1960 – his listing on the Social Security Death Index and his obituary in the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
William died 27 October 1988, and he is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Maryland with his wife, Ethel, who died on 1992.
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