Tanker drivers remember one of their own with convoy

Published 9:11 am Friday, April 15, 2016

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT — A Brenner Oil semi tanker leads a convoy west on US-12 Thursday morning.

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT — A Brenner Oil semi tanker leads a convoy west on US-12 Thursday morning.

A green and white wreath was attached to the grill of a semi-tanker truck as it rumbled west on US-12 in Niles Thursday morning.

Behind it were dozens more tanker trucks and their drivers in a convoy that stretched nearly as far as the eye could see.

Charles Edwards

Charles Edwards

All were traveling from the Brenner Oil Transport station in Niles Township to White Pigeon in remembrance of one of their own — Charles Edwards, a Berrien Springs man who died when his semi tanker rolled on M-60 in Howard Township April 7.

“Chuck,” as he was known to friends and colleagues, had been a truck driver for Brenner Oil Transport for 20 years. He left behind a son and two daughters.

“When we heard the news everybody got together and said this is what we want to do for him,” said Niles’ Michael Pease, who worked with Edwards for 13 years. “He was a guy that would always help you out and a true professional in what he did. He would’ve loved it (the convoy).”

Several truck drivers at the celebration said tanker drivers are a very close group because they all haul the same things and go to the same places for work, no matter which company they work for.

Representatives from approximately a dozen different hauling companies participated in the convoy.

“We’ve always considered it a brotherhood, like the firemen and policemen,” said Niles’ Rod Hessey, who worked with Edwards at Brenner Oil for 20 years.

“Chuck was a hard-working man. He was one of those guys if you let him work 24 hours a day he’d work it without a complaint.”

Perry Leslie, of South Bend, had known Edwards for around 20 years. He said he would remember him for his smile.

“The week before the accident we were up here in the lot laughing and joking. He had a great smile and was a really nice guy,” Leslie said. “He was a consummate professional. One of the guys everybody knew would get it right.”

Mike Grise, of Niles, worked as Edwards’ supervisor for most of his 20 years at Brenner Oil.

He said Edwards was the hardest working, most dedicated person he had every known.

“I remember him for always being there when you needed him,” he said. “That’s why you see so many trucks out here today. He was there for anybody who needed a hand or advice about the fuel business.

“Knowing Chuck, he would’ve never thought he deserved it. He would have never thought that people thought that much of him.”