Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants


Tammy Miller - An Eye Opener

Tammy was born on Father Day in Anderson, South Carolina.  Her childhood years were in Bowersville, which is in Northeast Georgia, where her mother worked in a textile plant and her father drove a truck for a Lavonia roller mill.  Some things in life never change, and Tammy still resides in Bowersville. Tammy graduated from Hart County High majoring in meeting her future husband, Jimmy.  Jimmy is four years older than Tammy, hence they met at her best friend’s home where Jimmy was friends with the friend’s brother. Confusing but worth it as the relationship matured to a marriage of thirty-one years.  They married after Tammy graduated from High School and relocated to Athens to be closer to Jimmy’s job.  Jimmy has worked for thirty-three years as a sheet metal mechanic for C & M Mechanical and still counting.

Tammy found work at Revco (now CVS) and their first son Nathan was born.  Nathan is now twenty-eight and resides in Hart County where Tammy enjoys his two children, ages seven and three.  Eleven months and one day after Nathan’s birth, Tammy’s second child Jeremy was born.  Jeremy now lives in Starr, South Carolina.      

When Jeremy was nine months old, the family moved back to Bowersville where Tammy returned to work at textile manufacturer Gip’s in Hartwell, GA making men’s dress pants.  After thirteen and a half years of handling zippers on men’s pants, Tammy needed a change.  The solution was becoming an Optometrist Tech.  Tammy has worked at the Eye Care Center in Bowersville for the past thirteen years. If you can see when you visit the Eye Care Center, you will find Tammy does it all but perform the actual eye exam.  She makes your appointment, pretests you, files your insurance claim, and manages the office staff.  

Tammy is a pet lover, with a kennel currently consisting of Elvis, an eleven-year old Chihuahua, Leo, a four-year old Dachshund, and Sally, a six-year old Dachshund rescue.  Tammy noticed that Sally does run “a little funny but doesn’t let that slow her down”.  At age forty, Tammy did not want to slow down and decided to run a 5K.  You guessed it, her first race was the True Love Canine 5K in Winterville at Pittard Park.  If any race supports or benefits animal rescue, Tammy is now off and running.  She and Jimmy discovered the Black Bag Race Series in 2015.  Tammy placed fourth in her 45-49 female age group that year.  She progressed to rank second in her age group in 2017 in Black Bag, Clover Glove, the Run and See Georgia Race Series, and first in the AAA Health Race Series.  Her first Half Marathon was the Atlanta Half on Thanksgiving Day in 2017, and at mile ten she swore that she would never attempt this again. Three weeks later she registered to enter the half marathon in Cherokee, North Carolina in October 2018.

Her hobbies are grandchildren, camping (if there is electricity and Internet), cruises, and shopping. Tammy has “made a lot of new running friends” and misses “seeing everyone every weekend now as we have slowed down some this year”.           

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile on Mark Polson, and transplanted Athenian Fran Fussell.


Tom "Dwight" Wendle - Boxed In and Packaged to Go

Tom was born in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.  His father was a manager at Rex Chain Belt that manufactured metal chain belts for industrial and farm machinery.  After several acquisitions, the name is now Norberg Manufacturing.  The firm was criticized by President Trump in December 2016 for closing a plant and transferring three hundred jobs to a new plant in Mexico.  His mother was an occupational therapist, which explains Tom’s personality!  The highlight of his childhood was a Golden Retriever he was given in the seventh grade, and that Tom shepherded through obedience training to compete in a retrieve and jump course during grade school at Whitefish Bay.  High school followed with Tom graduating from Nicolet High.  Tom saw a Lt. Robinson Crusoe movie in 1966 with his brother Tim (passed away in 1999).  The character in the movie wanted to be named something else like “Dwight”.   His older brother started calling Tom “Dwight”.  The name struck as he followed his older brother to Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois receiving a B.A in Business Management and Administration in 1975. Bradley had a competitive basketball team and four team members lived on Tom’s floor his freshman year.  Although not on the team, Tom, 1 of the players and numerous other friends still gather at Peoria once a year for a senior age group reunion.  Tom served as a resident dorm advisor from his sophomore through senior year at Bradley.  As a Bradley student, Tom worked part time at Tinder Box, a cigar and tobacco store.

Graduation resulted in a move to Champaign Urbana, Illinois to open a new Tinder Box location.  From there he migrated to a management trainee program at Sears, and shortly thereafter realized that he needed a change.  Loading up what furniture he had and as expected a golden retriever, Tom, in 1980, went back to artic Wisconsin for employment in an inside sales position with a paper firm named Clevepak.  The division Tom worked in was sold to Norcross based Rock-Tenn (merged in 2015 with MeadWestvaco and renamed WestRock) in 1983 and relocated to historic Norcross.  Tom was responsible for developing the Partition Division sales section of Rock-Tenn.  In 1989 Tom was transferred from Norcross to a Rock-Tenn Milwaukee plant where he was responsible for shipping and scheduling.  Rock-Tenn next sent travel ready Tom to acquire partition companies in Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine and to instill Rock-Tenn operating procedures.       

The relocations resulted in Tom developing a twenty-year smoking habit of two packs a day.  The Portland, Maine plant was a smoke free facility and convinced Tom to kick the habit.  After five and a half years as a snow and ice nomad, Tom “jumped” at the opportunity to package himself back to the Norcross home office.  Tom retired on December 31, 2016 after thirty-seven years in corporate America. He misses the Rock-Tenn perks like free moving boxes. 

On July 4, 1996 Tom could not avoid seeing “all kinds of folks” wearing Peachtree Road Race shirts. Motivated, Tom ran the 1997 Peachtree Road Race and began participating in “more and more races”. Tom realized that he could not compete with “Roger and Bo” in his age group, so he started competing against himself in Run and See, Black Bag, and Clover Glove races.  Long term goals are the “Quest for 1,000” races and maybe a race in every state (twelve to date).  Tom estimates he needs another five or six years of good health to achieve his goals.  Otherwise he will be resigned to having a medical procedure in every state.  His favorite race is the Midnight Sun Run in Fairbanks, Alaska that Tom ran in June 2002 where Tom had the opportunity to connect with a long-lost cousin and run the 10K at midnight with the sun brightly shinning.  Georgia favorite races are the ones that serve the best race food.  Best race will be the one that serves a cold beer at the end of a hot weather run.

Bob checking out from the back of the pack. Look for the profile of Tammy Miller and profile of Mark Polson.       


Veronica Doster - Flipping Off and Running

Veronica was born in Gainesville, GA yet her parents were residents of Athens.  Being the youngest of the litter, she was raised in a gaggle of seven brothers and one sister in Athens.  Veronica’s parents were lifetime textile industry employees, and Veronica worked part time in the summer in the same mills. Veronica’s parents both had been previously married with her mother contributing five sons and her father two sons and a daughter to the union.  Veronica was the one offspring of eight from their second marriage.  The age spread of the offspring resulted in Veronica’s sister being age nineteen and her oldest brother twenty-five when she was born.

Veronica graduated from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, and attended the University of Georgia.  As her father’s health declined, she decided to leave college in 1984 to join the work force at Westinghouse in Athens.  The Westinghouse plant manufactured large electrical transformers.  Veronica left Westinghouse after thirteen years for a position with Danaklon-Fibervisions, a firm that made industrial fibers.  The grass was not as green at Danaklon-Fibervisions as Veronica had hoped, and seven years later she returned to Westinghouse.  Veronica experienced Westinghouse selling the Athens plant facility to the Swedish/Swiss multinational firm ABB Group (now called Powerpartners), and has remained there for a tenure of twenty-seven years and still counting.  Most of us envy Veronica who only has a seven-minute commute to work.

Veronica at age forty-six married bearded Randy Booth. Randy was a Mustang, but has been converted from Ford to a Chevrolet by Veronica.  Veronica is a Chevrolet Camaro enthusiast as seen modeling with her favorite mode of transport in the photos.  Randy has her heart, but Veronica still has her maiden name like many professional marred females. They have only four legged children-two dogs, two cats, and a two-legged bird.  Her hobby, besides running, is roller skating, and helping Randy acquire properties that need tender loving care.  Together they have acquired five rental homes and have been refurbishing acquired homes to flip.  They have sold one home and have two others that are a work in process.  Their real estate venture operates under the name Misty’s Pawperties, named after a deceased pet Husky who expired at age seventeen.  Veronica and Randy invest a lot of sweat equity in their properties doing most of the renovation themselves.

Veronica only begin her running hobby three years ago.  She participated in an American Cancer Society Relay for Life event that was sponsored by her employer.  Then Veronica participated in twenty 5K races in 2015, maybe forty to fifty in 2016, and well over one hundred in 2017 earning a Black Bag 1,000-point jacket.  Her favorite race is the Watkinsville SOAR and any other race that promotes pet rescue.  She improved her standing from fifth in Run and See Georgia Grand Prix in 2016 to first in the age 55-59 female age group.  Veronica also is first in her age group the Black Bag and Clover Glove Race series in 2017.   Veronica acknowledges that “people who race have become awesome friends” and a part of her life.      

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for theprofile of Tom Wendle and profile of Tammy Miller.


Dr. David Beeland - Running Hobby with Eat More Chicken Children

David was born in Macon but grew up in Thomaston, GA where his parents worked in the local Martha Mills cotton mill.  David fondly recalls that the mill would shut down for 4th of July vacation week facilitating annual family treks to Panama City Beach.  David was very active in 4-H in school.  He was a   4-H Central District Officer in 1985 and a Rock Eagle camp counselor in 1989.  David played trumpet and transitioned to baritone in the Upson High School band.  He has worked since the age of sixteen, initially at a Dairy Queen then Winn Dixie while in high school.  He continued working in the grocery business during his two years at Gordon Junior College in Barnesville. 

David’s college tenure continued at a satellite campus of Mercer University in Thomaston before transferring to the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1990.  In addition to working in the Gingko Tree Restaurant, front desk, and eventually night manager at the downtown Athens Holiday Inn, David served in the Georgia National Guard from 1986-1992.  David was activated and served stateside on active duty during Operation Desert Storm.  Upon deactivation, David returned to UGA and graduated in 1993 with a B.A. in Middle Grades Education. This explains why David can so easily engage in conversation with fellow Black Bag and Clover Glove runners.  He persevered and earned Master and Specialist of Education degrees in Instructional Technology and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University.  David worked fulltime to support himself through every degree that he earned!

David’s career as an educator began with a six-year stint as a 7th grade science teacher followed by five years as an instructional technology coach for teachers at Upson-Lee Middle School in Upson County.  For the past fourteen years, David has been a district administrator in the Upson, Monroe, and now Barrow County School systems.  In addition to his duties with the Clover Glove Race Series and Barrow County School system, David is a part time Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University teaching online courses in instructional technology.    

David has been married for twenty-three years to April Eskew Beeland, a first-grade teacher at Auburn Elementary School.  His daughter Whitney is a sophomore psychology major at Georgia Southern University.  Their youngest child, son Will, is an eleventh grader at Winder-Barrow High School.  Both currently or have in the past worked at Chick-Fil-A in Winder.

Using his instructional technology expertise, David used the Couch to 5K app on his smart phone for his first foray into running.  David began to run in October 2014 with the goal of losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle.  He ran his first 5K in December 2014 with a time of 31.25.  The number of races progressed and David’s time came down, with thirty races in 2015 with a P.R. of 23:19, one hundred and twenty-five in 2016 with a P.R. of 21:41, and one hundred and fifty races in 2017 with a P.R. of 21:31. David has run many 10Ks and a few half marathons.  David reflects that “when I started running I had no idea that I would become part of a running family that has reunions every weekend.”  He is “most thankful for the support and encouragement I have received from my fellow runners who have become my friends.” His favorite thing about running is meeting and getting to know new people.  He stated “my hobby is running.”                                                 

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of Veronica Doster, and profile of Tom Wendle.  


Jackie Phillips - Hanging in There

Jackie was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Jackie parlayed her good grades in business subjects, shorthand awards, and typing skills into her first job after High School graduation as the secretary/treasurer of the South Side High School, the high school she attended.  This was unfamiliar territory as Jackie had never been to the principal’s office as a student!  Jackie admitted that early in life she “never set the bar very high for her life goals”.  She enjoyed the work because as far back as she could remember, she wanted to be a good secretary.  After two years on the job, Jackie married a soldier and moved to Germany, from there, relocated to Biloxi, Mississippi, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and then Fort Benning in Columbus, GA.  When the dust settled at Fort Benning, Jackie had two babies and was content to be a stay at home mom.  Shortly after arriving at Fort Benning, her husband was deployed to Vietnam.  Unfortunately, their marriage dissolved after his return from the war.  The husband moved on with the Army and Jackie stayed in Columbus, which has been home ever since. 

The divorce necessitated that Jackie become employed again.  She was offered a job with a manufacturing firm, as a secretary at Wipo, Inc, which manufactured industrial wiping cloth.  Another “dream job” that she enjoyed for the next sixteen years.  In 1991 Jackie transitioned to clerical work in a physician’s office, and is still employed with the same group of physicians transcribing medical records.  Jackie remarried in 1974 to an Army retiree. They were married for sixteen plus years when he was tragically killed in a house fire.  Although Jackie still works full time, she spends her quiet time reading, taking care of her cats, and traveling to races. 

Jackie started walking initially for weight control and transitioned into running.  Her first race she recalls was the Americus 5/10K in 1980.  She found the entry form in a local shoe store and began to ask where was Americus!  At that race, Jackie peaked in two blocks and walked/ran the rest of the race, finishing the 5K with some of the 10K runners.  The time didn’t matter, but the endorphins did as Jackie was hooked on running.  The camaraderie, the crowd support, and the feeling of accomplishment are worth the effort.  Her late husband used to tell friends that “running is the only thing that Jackie ever stuck with”.  After thirty-seven years of running she is still out there with us.        

Jackie’s PR’s are: 5K-21:23 in Montgomery; 10K-44:10 in the Rose City Run in Thomasville, and 1:44 for a Macon Half Marathon.  She has ran three marathons, and remarks that that was “two too many!”  The two were the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC, the New York City Marathon, and one in Portland, Oregon.   Jackie, like most senior members of the running community, have found that her times have doubled as their age doubles.  Her granddaughter Allyson Barron travels with Jackie to most races. Her two favorite half marathons are the “Teardrop half” in Chatsworth, GA and “The Scream” in Jonas Ridge, North Carolina.  Jackie has enjoyed participating in the Greater Atlanta Athletes Series.  Her goal in 2017 is to run twelve half marathons, and “maybe” eighteen in 2018.  This total includes the Publix Half and Thanksgiving Half in Atlanta, the Soldier’s Half in Columbus, and the Snickers Half in Albany.  Jackie consistently ranks high in her age group, including the 70-74 female of which she is now a member.  Not too many years back Jackie came is second overall female in points in the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series.  She is considered the premier senior female runner in the Columbus, GA area.  Her maternal grandmother lived to the young age of one hundred and three and her paternal grandmother also one hundred.  Her granddaughter Allyson has agreed to take over the driving duties enroute to races when Jackie turns 90.      

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of David Beeland, and Veronica Doster.