David Gunther New Chair of CAOL Board.

California Operation Lifesaver would like to officially welcome David Gunther as it’s brand new chairman.

David R. Gunther

David was born on 6 November 1938 in Long Beach California.

He spent most of his young years in Downey, California and graduated from Cantwell High School in Montebello, California in June, 1956.

While growing up, David raised chickens with a friend, selling fryers and eggs to unsuspecting locals and the Safeway Market.

David was a carrier for the Los Angeles Times during his High School years.  He had 640 customers, which paid for his car and other necessities.

During the summer between junior and senior year of High School, David worked in a printing shop in Bell, California where his father worked.  This began a long relationship with that trade during which David became a journeyman letter- pressman. David worked in many shops in various locations on the West Coast.

In January 1959, David volunteered for the draft and spent the next 2 years in the 4th Infantry Division, standing in the rain of the Pacific Northwest with a machine gun rusting on his shoulder.

David was released from active duty on 25January 1961, a very happy man.

It was in May, 1964 when David first went to the Santa Fe Railway, hiring on as a brakeman at Needles, California.

He married his first wife shortly after going to the railroad.

In October 1966, Veronica and again in September 1967 Johanna, the daughters that have lighted his life were born.

In April 1968, David resigned his seniority with the railroad and went to work for the Times Mirror Press, in Los Angeles, a subsidiary of the Los Angeles Times.

“I realized everywhere else I had worked paled in comparison with the railroad and made it my business to get back there as soon as possible.”  

David was hired back by the Santa Fe in April 1970 as a brakeman at Needles, California.

He was promoted to Conductor in May 1975.  He has worked in all types of service including freight, local, passenger, baggage service, training and management.

In 1989 he was selected from more than 400 applicants to be one of 10 Train-service Instructors.  This new position was established to give Rules, Safety, Hazardous-Materials and other training to operating employees.

In 1992 David went back to his territory and participated in the Locomotive Engineer Training Program.  He was promoted to Locomotive Engineer on 4 July 1992.

David was promoted into the management of the Santa Fe Railway as Manager of Rules for the Central Region in February 1994 and relocated to Albuquerque.  His territory from West to East was Needles, California to Slaton, Texas and North to South from Denver, Colorado to El Paso, Texas.

In 1995 as the Santa Fe and the Burlington Northern were preparing to merge, the Rules and Safety teams were reorganized.  David was transferred to San Bernardino as Manager of Safety and Rules for Southern California Division.

Since 1995 David has been located in San Bernardino and has held various positions in Safety, Training and Rules.  Managing an aggressive new hire training program was one of David’s charges.  Between 1995 and 2001 the railroad hired more than 700 new employees in the operating department in California.  All of those people came through a school in San Bernardino, which David managed.  Southern California Division had the highest percentage on the railroad of new employees passing the required examinations, with about 1.4% failure rate and it had the lowest injury rate for employees under 5 years service on the railroad.  David has worked closely with the CPUC the FRA and other railroads to promote mutual interests in Safety and Rules compliance. David devoted 6 years as BNSF member on the Board of Directors of California Operation Life Saver.

During his career with the railroad, David has received several certificates of recognition including receipt of the Hill-Holiday Founders Award in 1997 and 1998.

In February 1998 David married the Lovely Shirley his long time Lady Friend, they reside in Rancho Cucamonga.

On 31 October 2001 David resigned into retirement.

“Since retiring I have been pretty lazy.  I had a large shop built in my back yard, as a retirement present to my self.  The purpose is to work on two old cars I have, a 1932 Lincoln coupe and a 1933 Lincoln roadster, and piddle around with other unnecessary things.  I have traveled some.  In 2002 I went to Europe with my wife and when her vacation was over she flew home.  I took the night train from Zurich to Berlin then flew to St. Petersburg and took the train to Vladivostok, getting off at several places for a few days each to see Russia and Siberia.  This trip was an around the world circuit and took 46 days.  In 2004 I went to Tibet with a small group and spent 30 days.  I went back to Tibet in 2005 and again in 2006.  In 2010 I again went to Asia traveling to Tibet and through some of Western China by rail.”

Since retirement David has done consulting for BNSF legal department and taught classes on railroad safety, environment and operations at San Bernardino Valley College.  He is on the advisory council of the transportation department at that school.  He has also consulted for Pacific Harbor Line in Wilmington, SCRRA/Metrolink and the City of Carson.

He is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of California Operation Lifesaver, a 501 c 3 corporation dedicated to public safety around railroad properties.

He is President of the Friends of El Garces, a group dedicated to preserve the Santa Fe Station and Harvey House Hotel in Needles, California.

David is a docent at the Autry National Center.

David belongs to the Lincoln Owners Club, The Kipling Society, The Zamorano Club of California and the Western Association of Map Librarians.  He is also a member of the Pacific Asia Museum, the Autry National Center, the Needles Regional Museum, The Grand Canyon Association and the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Related post