Couple killed in a train derailment on the island of St. Simons on their 50th anniversary trip


NS. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. Long-time residents of St. Simons Island, Don and Margie Varnadoe, were on a trip to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary when they were killed in a train derailment over the weekend.

They were among three people who died when an Amtrak train traveling from Chicago to Seattle derailed in rural Montana on Saturday afternoon.

The Vernadoes had lived on St. Simons Island for 45 years and spent much time in St. Simons United Methodist Church. On Wednesday, News4Jax spoke to Senior Pastor Tom Jones, a close friend of the couple, who said the church just isn’t the same.

“They were just great members of our Church,” said Jones. “You’re the guy who’s always here unless you’re traveling. They love to travel. “

Don and Margie Varnadoe (Family Varnadoe)

Don Varnadoe, 74, sold real estate, served on the Church finance committee and as an usher for more than four decades. Margie Varnadoe, 72, was a retired teacher and administrator for the Glynn County School District and served in the Stephen Ministry of the Church helping people through difficult times in their lives.


“It’s kind of ironic that she died now, and it’s like we all need a Stephen Minister to accompany us through this difficult time,” said Jones. “The grief is almost palpable. I mean, we announced Sunday morning and worship, and you could just feel across the church that this heaviness was coming down. “

Jones said the Varnadoes are mostly remembered for their kindness and care.

“They were two people who really cared about others,” said Jones. “They are special people who have left an empty place in our hearts and in this community.”

Jones said he was in close contact with the family, who traveled to Montana on Wednesday to do final identification and collect the remains to return to Glynn County.

Although the couple’s loss is painful, the family is comforted to know that the two could spend half a century together.


Don and Margie Varnadoe (Varnadoe family)

The investigators do not know the cause of the derailment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.