Bradley Horsley, the long haul trucker who became known for his Facebook journal called “Somewhere in America,” went home at last Monday evening, Feb. 26. He was 58.
Brad will be laid to rest at 2:30 p.m. Friday with a graveside service at Anderson Memorial Gardens in Ringgold, next to his grandparents, Elder Troy and Ruth Hayes. Brad is survived by his son, Jacob Horsley -- a husband, father and law enforcement officer of whom Brad was immensely proud. Jacob and his wife, Casy, have a daughter, Katie – delight of Brad’s heart -- and live near Tifton. Brad also has an uncle, Elder Joseph Hayes, an aunt, Patricia Hayes, and a sister, Tracy -- who live in Ringgold -- and two cousins, Farrell Hayes of Chattanooga and Kathy Tucker of Sautee.
Brad passed away peacefully in the arms of the woman who loved him, Carla Odom-Ramey -- his head resting on her heart – at the Cancer Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. After he took his last breath, Carla still felt a pulse, but didn’t know if it was hers or his. In the end, it was only hers.
As Brad slipped gently into heaven, Carla said, “He was truly loved.”
Carla had cared for Brad over the past year since he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite treatment, the cancer spread throughout his body, with excruciating result, relieved only by the comfort care that he received at the medical center in his last days.
“Some of my most precious life’s moments have been with him,” Carla said of Brad. They met through friends on Facebook. Carla said Brad brought joy into her life during a difficult time after she lost her husband, father of her children.
Sitting at the foot of Brad’s bed when he passed was his beloved son Jacob.
Brad was born Feb. 4, 1961 in Fort Worth, Texas to Walter and Velda Horsley. His father served in the U.S. Air Force. His mother was the former Velda Hayes of Boynton, a radiology technician. The family moved to Oklahoma City, then to Albany, Georgia, and later Moultrie. Brad graduated from Colquitt County High School.
Brad served in the U.S. Army for six years, including two years in Germany. He was awarded three Army Commendation medals, one by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. He was one of the original pathfinders.
When he returned home from service, he was married to the woman who would become Jacob’s mother, Donna, and they were married for two decades.
For many years, Brad drove a big rig truck on cross country routes carrying loads of merchandise and produce. He documented his trips with his “Somewhere in America” Facebook journal, sharing thoughts from the road and photographs: a rainbow across the dessert, snow on the Rocky Mountains, sunset over the plains.
It was a way to keep in touch during long periods alone. “It was something I could do,” he said. His writings were filled with humor, spirit, compassion, empathy, and always hope.
“Would a group of truckers actually come to a complete stop and shut down an interstate highway to rescue a 4-year-old’s teddy bear that blew out of a car window?” Brad asked on Facebook in 2016. “You bet they will!!!! Don’t ask me how I know. Somewhere in America.”
He shared down-to-earth wisdom.
“Show me a person that’s never made a mistake,” Brad posted in 2018, “and I’ll show you a person that’s never done anything!! Somewhere in America.”
“Always follow your heart. It will take you to the right place, even if it is a hard trip. Somewhere in America.”
He told lesser known stories about famous people.
“At the time, he was considered by many to be a ‘slow-starter.’ Some said he was unmotivated, others said he was pure lazy. He was bankrupt by the time he was 25. He was fired from the Kansas City Sun newspaper for ‘a lack of creativity.’ People said ‘all he wants to do is draw and make silly noises.’ But he stuck to his heart and eventually was able to turn those drawings and silly noises into an EMPIRE! that is going strong today.
He was.......Walt Disney
Somewhere in America.”
He shared quotes to inspire.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Somewhere in America.”
He said all men should watch the movie "Lonesome Dove" at least once a year, put together a swing set, know how to hook up jumper cables and read a map, attend a tea party hosted by a 5 year old and “get to really know a dog.”
Brad was respected for his driving skill and safety record, and was called upon to train other drivers. But the companion he mentioned most was his dog, Tater.
“Tater says he’s seen more of this country than most people,” Brad wrote. On that day, he posted a picture of Tater looking out the passenger window onto Mobile Bay in Alabama.
In another post, Tater “photo bombed” Brad’s picture of an Oklahoma sunset.
Tater ate what Brad ate. They would share a pizza, though Brad had to pick the bell peppers off for Tater. In Las Vegas, they discovered great cornbread. In Wildwood, Florida they both had “broiled lemon pepper whitefish, loaded baked potato and Texas toast.” If Brad went to Longhorn, Tater got his own steak.
Sometimes he shared his miles. He recorded the distance on a trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, 2002 miles, with photos of his truck. On another trip, he said, “We’re going to Disney World. Santa Maria, California to Orlando, Florida, 2615 miles. Ol’ Man has the wheel, Tater has shotgun, and WE have the ‘front door.’ Somewhere in America, going across the bottom.”
In October 2016, he wrote, “Until a few minutes ago, I had operated in 47 of 48 continental United States. Now I have ALL 48 states!! Somewhere in America, I just crossed the Washington state line.”
Earlier on the same day he posted pictures of the landscape in Missoula, Montana. The day before, he was feeling a little chilly in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
He didn’t always say what he was carrying, but when he did, he made it part of the story.
“They have a sweet-tooth in California, and there’s candy in Atlanta. Westbound!!! With 44,035 pounds of M&M’s and Mars bars!!! Somewhere in America, Rydal, Georgia.”
“They want to make salad in Florida, and there’s lettuce in California,” he wrote in 2016. “Los Angeles, California, to Winter Haven, Florida … in 48 hours. Git in the truck, Tater. … We’re gonna have to ‘stand on it’! Somewhere in America, going across the bottom.”
On another trip, he reported loading up with Idaho potatoes – special potatoes, the “BIG BAKING” kind. “Anyway, we have 42,000 pounds of taters in the wagon, and oh yea, one ‘Tater’ up front. Going to Stanford, Florida. 2,397 miles. Somewhere in America. Rupert, Idaho.”
Only a couple of days before that he was “headed to Salt Lake City Utah with a load of carpet out of Dalton, Georgia. Somewhere in America. Kansas City, Kansas.”
He seemed happiest heading back to Georgia.
In April, 2017, he posted a picture of a “Welcome to Georgia” sign and this.
“I was sure I could detect some excitement in the voice of the GPS when she said, ‘…in point eight miles, keep left, I-85 SOUTH, ATLANTA!!!!! Folks, your native sons have returned. We hammerdown SOUTHBOUND!!! Somewhere in America.”
In recent years, Brad settled down in Cleveland to be with Carla in the North Georgia mountains.
In April, 2017, Brad posted this.
“When life hands you a lemon.....SQUEEEEEEZE it into a glass of sweet tea and thank GOD you’re Southern. It's a beautiful day here. Feeling a bit sad today but also feeling truly blessed. Carla's ok, Tater's ok, I'm ok. That's what matters. That's ALL that matters. Want to thank "ALL" that have shown support and encouragement.
Somewhere in America........................I'm going home.”
Brad received many kind comments from followers of his travels. He wrote this as a tribute to “true friends.”
“They are the ones running ‘in’ while others are running ‘out.’ My deepest gratitude goes out to ALL my friends that have stood by me,” Brad said. “If it’s true that ‘friends are the flowers of life,’ then even in my darkest year, this has been a splendid spring. … GOD smiled… Somewhere in America.”