The founder of Central Freight Lines, Inc., William Woody Callan, was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor July 27 in conjunction with the annual conference of the Texas Motor Transportation Association (TMTA).
John Esparza, president and CEO of TMTA, introduced Robert Babbitt, Hall of Honor board member and president and CEO of McDonald Transit Associates, Inc., who presided at the ceremony. Mr. Gary Thomas, vice president for safety, compliance and training (retired) of Central Freight Lines provided comments about Callan’s career, and Robert Braswell, Callan’s grandson, accepted the recognition for his grandfather on behalf of the Callan family.
Babbitt said that the TMTA annual conference was a tremendous occasion for this honor and noted that Callan was the first individual inducted into the Transportation Hall of Honor who devoted his career to the trucking industry.
“If I were to describe Mr. Callan in one word, it would be ‘visionary,’ said Thomas. “Over the course of its 86 years of operation, third and fourth generations of families have made their careers at Central because of the vision of Mr. Callan.”
Braswell spoke of his grandfather’s ingenuity, integrity and dedication to his employees, most of whom he knew by name.
Callan, who was called “Mr. Woody” by many, founded the company in 1925 with a Model-T truck and built it into the largest intrastate, regular-route common carrier in the nation, employing over 4,500 people and serving 1,200 Texas cities and towns. He retired as president of the company in 1952, served as chairman of the board and was active in transportation and community affairs until his death in 1987.
During World War II, Callan served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Transportation Corps, organizing the storage and movement of supplies and equipment throughout the United States. He also served as past chairman of the Common Carrier Conference of American Trucking Associations and past chairman of the Common Carrier Association of Texas. Callan also was a member of the board of directors of Southwestern Motor Freight Bureau, Inc.
Woody Callan becomes the 33rd member of the Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000 by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) as a way to recognize the select individuals who played pivotal roles in the advancement of transportation in Texas and the nation. Each individual inducted into the Hall is recognized by a plaque on permanent display at TTI on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.