Ron Randall is still pumped at 92Aug 08, 2022 12:48PM ● By Peri Kinder
It doesn’t have digital gas pumps with TV screens and the office is filled with photos of bygone days, but Ron’s Service Station on 278 N. Main Street in Centerville has something no other business can provide. It has Ron Randall.
Even at 92, Randall goes to work every day as a constant stream of visitors comes to the station. Some want their car’s emissions checked, some want pictures in front of the classic building, some buy cans of soda, and some just want to sit and talk.
“I like to be here and meet people,” Randall said. “Every day someone comes in to chat. It’s been a good life. We haven’t made a lot of money but we’ve done all right.”
Randall’s service station has been a fixture on Main Street since he partnered with Phillips 66 to build a new structure on the site after a windstorm blew down the previous station in 1959. It’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2017.
The station has seen better days. It sold gas for the last time in 1998. The office is full of old photo albums, trophies from his days as a chariot racer, pictures of horses and yellowed newspaper articles detailing awards won by Randall and his wife, who passed away in 2011.
Randall graduated from Davis High School in 1948, married his childhood sweetheart Darlene Noakes in 1949 and raised four children. He and his wife were active members of the Twin Stars horseback riding club and acclaimed ballroom dancers. Even after Darlene was moved to an assisted living facility in Bountiful, they continued to dance together twice a week. Randall and his wife were inducted into Centerville’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
“We did everything. Sold gas, fixed tires and made cars run,” Randall said. “I liked working on cars and I liked working with people. I was a little baffled to start with, but I’m not anymore.”
Many young men in the area had their first jobs at Ron’s Service Station which offered full-service that included pumping gas, cleaning windshields and checking oil levels.
“I hired a lot of teenage boys through the years,” he said. “They had to learn to handle the money and wait on the public. They had to work on cars and be reliable. Some of them were mechanically inclined. Others weren’t and they pumped gas or cleaned up.”
Now, his daughter, Jackie Hardy, helps him process payments and keeps him company during the day. As a little girl, she would come to the station when her mom had errands to run. Hardy would play with the equipment and hide in the tires. She said her dad always had a strong work ethic. “I’d see him in the morning before he went to work and he got home late at night.”
Randall sometimes gets offers for the station, but he doesn’t want to sell. It’s the longest-running business in Centerville, operated by the oldest living native resident of the city. As he walks through the station, he reminisces about his father who was a milk hauler and how he’s the only remaining sibling out of seven brothers.
Up until three years ago, Randall rode his horse to work every day. There are metal rings on the walls inside the station where he’d tie his horses and shoe them during the winter. He spent 57 years building and racing chariots and created the Wasatch Slopes Chariot Racing Club.
Now, he said cars have computer systems, people are too busy to talk and there’s more traffic outside his station than ever before. Gas prices have gone from 31 cents per gallon in 1960 to more than $5 in 2022.
But Randall isn’t worried about change. He still owns two horses and enjoys his 12 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. As long as he’s able, he’ll come to work every morning, sit outside the station and visit with anyone who wants to talk.
“My thought is to live and let live,” he said. “I try to be a friend to everyone. I try to think positive.” λ