Charley Stanford: Leader in the Railroad and Transportation Industry

This month, we’re excited to put the spotlight on our assisted living resident Charley Stanford. He was born in Wooster, Ohio in 1936. While he enjoys telling stories about his son and grandson, hearing Charley speak about the events of his career is like seeing a vivid picture of events through his words.

His career was propelled by studying Civil Engineering at the Ohio State University and planned to go into a railroad and rail transit career, an unpopular decision for what was considered a “dying” industry. He started out as a laborer and worked part-time for the railroad as an engineering aid. He was promised a full-time job after he graduated college, and that’s exactly what he did. But before beginning his career in the transportation industry, he joined the military. He returned in 1962 and met and married Maxine Stanford from Missouri.

Train photo that hangs above Charley's desk for this months assisted living senior spotlight
This train photo hangs on Charley’s wall above his desk, in plain view for him to see each day.

Charley spent time working for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a supervisor, working with rails and ties and the structure of the railroad. To do this job, Charley had to have extensive knowledge of how a railroad was designed and built and how it functioned. This gave him a good foundation for the rest of his professional career.

From there, Charley decided to branch out and move to New York City in 1965 to work for the NYC transit. Working in transit was very different than working for the railroad, but Charley made a great transition and caught on quickly. Every job he has ever had, he has always impressed the big bosses.

After spending 8 years in Manhattan, New York, Charley moved back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he had his most interesting job. He had never seen as many different kinds of transportation systems than he did in Philadelphia. There were “natural gas car buses, railroad systems and a subway system. Philadelphia at that time had a ton of tracks, never one trolley car”, says Charley.

It was in Philadelphia where his team took over the commuter rail system and Charley became the track supervisor. One of his responsibilities was picking up trash. Always in search of a laugh Charley says, “If you didn’t treat me well, I’d cut of your trash!”

Charley later went back to New York City where his job was to repair and decrease the amount of derailments. Charley was in charge of 6,000 employees at the time, and the track went 22 months without a derailment because of Charlie’s efforts. It was clear that Charley was the kind of boss that truly cared about his workers.  “There’s no such thing as bad workers, just bad managers”, say Charley.

Not only does Charley light up when talking about trains and the railway, his room at The Inn at Belden Village is filled with train memorabilia. He has about four different trains displayed in boxes that are very realistic and intricate.

Train drawing of Charley Sanford's grandson for the assisted living senior spotlight
This train, drawn by Charley’s grandson, hangs on the wall above his bed.

He also has a great painting of a railroad and train hanging above his desk, and a couple very cute drawings hanging on his wall drawn by his grandson. Charley says of his son John Charles, “I brainwashed the poor kid”. Charley’s son followed in his dad’s footsteps to work on the railroad as well.

Charley has been and continues to be such an influence not only in the railroad industry, but an influence on his family and the people he has worked with. We are honored to have Charley with us at The Inn at Belden Village assisted living facility.