Capitol Group Driver Retires After More Than 36 Years on the Road

Photo: Butch Kendall and Family Butch Kendall was a union driver who spent all but one year of his career sitting in the cab of a semitrailer, so it was ironic that it was his feet that finally told Butch Kendall it was time to retire. “When Capitol Group moved into the old Butternut building in Springfield last year, I started in the warehouse, packing orders,” said Kendall. “I liked it but I was walking about 50 miles a day and my body finally couldn’t take it anymore.” The walking on cement all day might have been the final straw but Kendall said things started down a path toward retirement about four years ago, after a tornado tore apart the Capitol Group building in Springfield. Everything changed after that, said Kendall, who was relocated to the company’s Peoria warehouse and commuted every day for a while. He said he will always be grateful that the company kept him and his co-workers on after the disaster. He never missed a paycheck but things were different. And then there was his health. “About six months after the tornado, I went to a routine doctor appointment and told him about the pain I was having in one of my hands,” said Kendall. “He did some tests and sent me right to a specialist. The specialist told me I owed that doctor my life. The main artery to my heart was 99 percent blocked. I was two weeks away from a heart attack.”

“It’s sure enjoyable to not have to answer to a clock. Now, I can cut part of the yard, take a break, cut some more, and take another break.”  -Butch Kendall, Teamsters Local 916 Retiree

A stint was put in and Kendall went right back to work, but this time he was on the prescription medicine Crestor. Whether it was the heart or the drug, Kendall found himself with about half the strength he used to have. Kendall finally retired on September 14, 2010. At first, it was a little hard to get used to; not surprising for a man who hasn’t drawn a single week of unemployment since 1969. “I returned from three years running the rivers in Vietnam,” said the U.S. Navy veteran. “I started my first full time job three days later.” Kendall started driving in 1973 – delivering coal to the local power plant. He joined the Teamsters, then got on with Capitol Group in Springfield. In the late 1970s and 80s, he ran the border states but most of his career was driving in Illinois. “I liked the independence,” said Kendall. “I used to joke that I’d leave before anyone arrived and return after they were gone, so the only one I’d really answer to was the clipboard, checking in and out.” Now, the only one he checks in with is Patty, the wife he met in the mid-1960s, six weeks before he left for Vietnam. The two see their only child, Kimberly, of Green Bay, WI, several times a year, often joining her to cheer on the Green Bay Packers, thanks to Kim’s season tickets. They are also in the middle of building a garage on the property they own next door to their house. However, Patty generally avoids the “man cave,” as Kendall describes it. That’s where Kendall has his pool table and his enormous collection of videos and vintage music, downloaded from free sites online. “The man cave got lots of use before I retired and still does,” said Kendall, with a laugh. “It’s sure enjoyable to not have to answer to a clock,” said Kendall. “Now, I can cut part of the yard, take a break, cut some more, and take another break.” Teamsters Local 916 proudly represents over 4,000 hardworking men and women throughout the State of Illinois in the private and public sectors.