Sowing Seeds of Success
The Doyle truck drivers have logged more than 7 million miles. The family legacy started in 1956 when Clarence Doyle started driving a grain truck to subsidize his farming income.
Sitting under a city park pavilion in Springfield, Colo., in an attempt to find relief from the 100-degree heat, Clarence Doyle readily admits he misses the open road. The 81-year-old – better known as Junior by those who are close to him – is surrounded by his children, grandchildren and other kin. Everyone is talking about recent loads or reminiscing about the old days.
“I about drove my wife crazy when I first quit driving a truck,” Clarence says. His wife Mildred Doyle chimes in, “When the boys call from the road, he gets out the map to see where they’re going and what routes they’re taking. He misses it.”
“The boys” are their sons and grandsons – part of a legacy of truck drivers that has earned the clan the title of Truckers News’ 2003 Great American Trucking Family. The Doyles, who were runners-up in last year’s contest, will be recognized at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Sept. 26-28.
The Doyles’ trucking history began in the flat farmlands of southeast Colorado in 1956 when Clarence subsidized his income as a farmer by hauling grain in the winter months. “I pulled a wooden, flat-bottom trailer. You had to open the doors on the bottom and then get in there and shovel the grain into the holes to unload,” Clarence says.
When health problems associated with grain dust forced Clarence to give up farming, he turned to driving a truck full time. In the early 1970s, he began hauling propane in a five-state region for Walsh Propane. He remained there until he retired in 1986.
Other members of the first generation drivers included Clarence’s late brother, Chester, who hauled paving supplies for the Colorado Department of Transportation for 20 years and his late brother-in-law, Jim Schweitzer, who hauled propane for many years before he was killed in a collision with a train.
Clarence passed his love for trucking on to his sons. Both Jack and Larry are career truckers. Larry, 52, of Hanston, Kan., followed his dad’s footsteps by hauling grain and then propane before moving on to transporting livestock. He now pulls a reefer for Kindsvater Trucking of Dodge City, Kan., primarily hauling meat.
Larry’s wife, Tancy, holds a commercial driver’s license and spent a couple of years on the road with her husband. She also worked for a while as a dispatcher at Kindsvater, but now she runs a day care center.
Jack Doyle, 48, of Fort Morgan, Colo., started driving over the road in 1990, and like his brother, hauled livestock for five years. In 1996, he became the first person in the core family to own his own tractor. He purchased the truck through Hill Brothers Transportation’s lease-purchase program. His wife, Melva, also a CDL holder, makes up the other half of the Jack Doyle Trucking team, which is still leased to Hill Brothers.
Their youngest son, 23-year-old Ryan of Goodland, Kan., is a company driver for Hill Brothers. Oldest son Brad Doyle, 25, is a highway engineer who sometimes helps out with his parents’ trucking business.
Both of Jack’s children got their share of road trips, but Ryan is the one who could never get enough of the lifestyle. “When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, I logged 17,000 miles during my summer break,” Ryan says. “I kept a journal of everywhere we went because I’ve always been thrilled with trucks.”