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Herald Palladium
June 7, 2010
by Julie Swidwa

UPS Man Has Drive
Gary Fernham


     Fernham has always liked to drive. He grew up on a farm in Hartford and says he drove tractors, motorcycles, scooters, all that good stuff.
     Fernham, 52, of Dowagiac has logged about 700,000 miles in 25 years as a United Parcel Service delivery driver, all without an accident, earning him a spot in the companys Circle of Honor.  
     Fernham works out of the UPS facility at 320 Palladium Drive, St. Joseph, and provides service in the Niles area.
     He and his wife, Janis, live in Dowagiac.

Fernham talked with Herald-Palladium Staff Writer Julie Swidwa at the UPS facility.

How do you stay accident-free?

     I think mostly keeping your eyes moving and looking far ahead. You have to have a good amount of luck, theres no doubt about that, especially in the winter time. The big thing is keep your eyes moving. Keep scanning all the time, your mirrors, up ahead, and way up ahead, not just one car length. You keep concentrating. You dont daydream.

What do you like best about the job?

     Being outside. I like meeting the people. Ive been on the same route for 22, 23 years and theres a lot of good people down there. I deliver down in Niles.

Whats your definition of a good day?

A reasonable stop count.

Getting done reasonably early, staying accident-free, and giving the customers what they want.

And a bad day?

Bad days for me are after Christmas when winter hits.  January and February I hate.  Its a lot of stress and you still have a lot of work to do. Its demanding. If the roads are bad or youve got a bad storm coming, its very stressful. Plus, you dont see the sun once November rolls around, and thats tough.

What do you like to do on your day off?

Relax, catch up on all the things I cant do during the week.

Any hobbies?

I like to ride motorcycles. Ive kind of taken that up again.

Are you accident-free there, too?

     Yeah. You dont get many second chances on a motorcycle. In the springtime I like to go look for morel mushrooms. During the summer we go up to a camp up north of Manistee for a week with friends.

Thats really cool. Thats a great escape, really relaxing.

I heard theres an interesting story about how you met your wife?

     Yeah. She was working on the route down in Niles. She worked at a veterinary clinic and she would make her order so Id have to stop by every day, instead of getting all her packages at once. We made a bet on a pro football game and the loser had to buy dinner. It just kind of went from there.

What game, what teams?

I dont even remember. I think the St. Louis Rams maybe, and somebody else.

And who won the bet?

Youll have to ask her.

No, actually, she won the bet.

Do you remember where you went for dinner?

Yeah, the Hacienda down in South Bend. That was in 1990, I think. We got married in 1991.

Have any kids?

No, just animals. Were both animal lovers.

Dogs? Cats?

Weve got four cats right now. We had another cat that just died and a dog that died last October. That was real tough. It was like our kid since we dont have kids.

She was a great dog. So its going to be a while before we get another dog.

Do you have a role model or a personal hero?

     Sky Kellogg, I visited him yesterday. Hes a hardware store owner in Hartford. He gave me my first job. His son runs it now. Hes a great person. Hes like a second father to me. My brother is also a role model, my older brother, George, he lives in Dallas. Hes like a best friend to me.

More proof that when something needs to be done right, hire a Hartford Grad! 

Gary is a 1976 Hartford High School Graduate.

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 20, 2014