Grier served the railroad for 42 years

October 12, 2017 GMT

After a 42-year career with the Southern Pacific Railroad (later Union Pacific), longtime Marion resident and train conductor Farris Grier had a golfer’s dream retirement — spending evenings in the back pasture of his Guadalupe County ranch, dodging his red Angus cattle and hitting golf balls with his black lab, Buster.

“We played golf together everywhere — Landa Park in New Braunfels, all over San Antonio and Dallas,” recalled his son, Ross Grier. “Dad thought he was Jack Nicklaus, but he was more like Happy Gilmore (the hapless Adam Sandler movie character). What I loved most about Dad’s game was that he was quick to forget bad shots and always looked forward to the next.”

Grier, 73, died on Oct. 7 at a group nursing home in McKinney after a lengthy fight with a rare incurable neurological disorder, multiple system atrophy.

“He would have wanted us to talk about this disease,” said his wife, Cheryl Grier, who now lives in Van Alstyne, north of Dallas. “We want donations to go to the MSA Coalition. Very little is known about MSA. It is often confused with Parkinson’s and has similar symptoms. Doctors spent three years just diagnosing him.”


Cheryl Grier said she met her husband in New Braunfels — “don’t print our ages, we were very young,” she chuckled — back in the early 1960s at a swimming area on the Comal River known as Stinky Falls.

They got married in 1964 at the First Protestant Church of New Braunfels — he graduated from Canyon High School, she from New Braunfels High.

Two years after starting with Southern Pacific, Farris Grier was drafted. As a U.S. Army “buck sergeant,” he was stationed at then-Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Grier came back to the railroad and worked his way up from a “hired out fireman” to a brakeman and then, by the late 1970s, a conductor.

“The railroad had a 3-inch-thick book of rules back then,” his wife said. “And he could recite any one of them verbatim. He was very proud of that, and his men were in awe of him. He was happy and fulfilled.”

The couple was active at The Country Church in Marion, where they moved in 1982.

Grier’s son knew his dad to be disciplined about money.

“I doubt he ever financed a house or went into debt,” he said. “He used to say the best way to double your money was to fold it in half and put it back into your wallet.”