Hudson names Williams
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999
‘top driver’ at ceremony
By JAINE TREADWELL
Published Sept. 1, 1999
When Kemmie Williams was a young boy, he was taken in by the sight and sound of a big-rig as it passed him by on Main Street in Brundidge.
That was a defining moment of Williams’ life. Right then and there he decided he belonged behind the wheel of one of those rigs.
Saturday night, Williams was named Driver of the Year at the annual Hudson Transportation Driver Safety Awards Banquet held at the Pike County Fairgrounds proving that he does, indeed, belong behind the wheel of a tractor trailer.
Williams has been driving for Hudson for 11 years and logs about 130,000 miles a year from coast to coast. Six years ago, he won the coveted Driver of the Year award and was again eligible this year. However, he was unsuspecting that he might win again until his parents came into the banquet hall.
"When I saw them, I thought something was up," Williams said, with a smile.
Winning such an award is a high point of any tractor trailer driver’s career and Williams is no exception.
"Anytime you get behind the wheel safety is your number one concern," he said. "We all take pride in our driving records and to be recognized for the job you do – that really means a lot."
For a while it seemed that Williams might never realize his boyhood dream. He worked at a couple of other jobs before a truck driving relative suggested he attend driving school.
"That’s what I had wanted to do since I was a little boy, so I took his advice and enrolled in the Washington-Holmes Vocational School in Chipley," Williams said.
After eight weeks of intense training, Williams slipped behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, shifted into gear, rolled onto the highway with a load of lumber and headed toward Tallahassee.
For the first time, he was on the road, on a big-rig and on his own.
"It was exciting and it felt good but it was scary at the same time," Williams said.
Not far down the road, any queasy feelings Williams had left him and he settled in to a comfortable life behind the wheel. However, short runs weren’t his style. Williams was in for the long haul and he longed for the long haul.
His opportunity came in 1988 with Hudson Transportation.
"Hudson is where I wanted to be and I was proud of the chance to drive for them," Williams said. "Hudson is a great company and I’m glad to be a part of it."
Williams handles long hauls for Hudson as part of a driving team and that’s the way he likes it.
"I’m not out there on the road alone and team driving gives me the chance to travel long distances and see different places and I like that," he said. "I go just about everywhere – California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts but my favorite place is Colorado because of all the mountains. I just like the wide open spaces. Those are the best runs and the best times."
Williams said being on the open road is always an adventure, either seeing something new or doing something a little out of the ordinary.
One night after stopping at a truck stop, he got back in his truck and was heading down the road at a nice clip, when something crawled out from under the passenger side seat.
"I didn’t know at the time that it was cat," Williams said, laughing. "I just saw an animal and I started hollering and it started hollering and running back and forth across the dash. I got the truck stopped as fast as I could and let that cat out!"
Another time, Williams played the role of the Good Samaritan when he stopped to help a stranded motorist who had run out of gas.
"She was pregnant and needed a ride to the nearest gas station," Williams said, laughing. "I looked over there at her and she was bouncing up and down in the seat and I just knew she was going to have that baby in my truck."
Williams was as happy to get the pregnant lady out of his truck as he was the screeching cat – "maybe happier."
Williams said most all of his experiences on the road have been positive ones and nothing has happened that would cause him to think that his destiny was not behind the wheel.
However, after a million and a half miles on the road, some of the edge has been taken off the excitement but not enough to make him want to do anything else.
Williams is a native of Jack but makes him home in Elba with his wife Vickie. They have a daughter Amanda Carnley and a son Kelyn and two grandchildren Hayden Carnley and Kendall Williams.