Robert Shields Retires After 55 Years On The Road
By Steve Pollock
CARLISLE, PA… Robert W. Shields delivered his last load on Monday, June 18, 2012 and hung up the keys to his 2007 Freightliner Coronado, officially retiring the next day. It was the end of a 55 year trucking career that saw Robert drive an amazing 5 million miles without a claim or an accident.
Bob Shields started driving in 1957 at the age of 18 while serving in the Air Force. The first truck he drove was a R190 International Tractor (gas) pulling a refrigerated trailer. He purchased his first truck in 1965, a K100 Cabover Kenworth. In all, Bob has owned 9 trucks, trading every 4 to 5 years. He has owned 2 K100 Kenworths, 2 Freightliner Cabovers, 3 Freightliner Conventionals, an International Conventional and in 2006 he purchased his ’07 Coronado. Bob hauled produce out of Florida for 2 years before switching to heavy haul. In 1977 he went to work for Keen Transport of Carlisle PA where he found a home for the next 35 years. Bob has never taken a vacation, only time off for an occasional holiday or when he would purchase another truck. In the last 5 years Bob has only turned down 2 loads at Keen.
When asked about how he achieved 5 million accident free miles, Bob stated, “Get your rest, use your brain, don’t let stress and emotions take over your reactions, check your truck and trailer every day and watch out for the other guy.” Bob has pulled a beam trailer for Keen for many years. He still talks with other drivers all the time and has taken a lot of younger Heavy Haul drivers under his wing, offering advice or lending a hand when needed.
You might say that truck driving is a Shields family tradition. Bob’s Dad, Robert Shields, Sr. owned and drove a gas powered 1949 IH K12, pulling for Masters Motor Express and Pony Express headquartered in Hagerstown, MD. Robert Shields, Sr. drove for 37 years until a drunk driver killed him and his wife in 1970. As Bob said, “Everybody has some hard rubber in their life. You just have to deal with it.” After 52 years of marriage, Bob lost his wife Ruth in October of 2008. The Shields have 4 grown children: Robert Shields III, Penny Rosenbury, Cynthia Felman and Debbie Mills. Debbie has followed in her father’s footsteps and owns a Volvo that she uses to pull a 3-axle RGN lowboy trailer and has been trucking for 20 years. Debbie’s husband Jeff Mills is also a professional truck driver with many years of experience. At the age of 73 Robert Shields realized he was starting to slow down physically. Even after a good night’s rest Bob would find himself occasionally getting tired during a work day and he decided that it was time to retire. He turned 74 in July. Bob has been an icon at Keen Transport for many years. He has made a lot of friends at the company, including Paul Ross, Gary Patterson and John Jennings, all of whom Bob says, “are good men.” Bill and Betsy Keen, owners of Keen Transport, held a barbecue on June 29th at the company’s corporate headquarters in Carlisle, PA to honor Bob and wish him well in his retirement. For now Bob has no plans, only to stay at home awhile. He said if he gets the urge, he might run an occasional dump load for one of his friends or maybe even take an occasional load for Keen.
We all wish Bob well and hope he will look back at his 55 years as a Professional Truck Driver with much pride and satisfaction knowing that he is truly among the best drivers to ever drive a truck.