Five Decades at the Wheel: Coy Dumas, Jr. retires from MARTA

Coy Dumas, Jr. (right) and his wife of 46 years Theresa at their home, January 4, 2023. All photos by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

Playing in the background of the Dumas’s MARTA memorabilia-filled living room is the Andy Griffith Show, a program whose time off the air eclipses the 51 years that Coy Dumas, Jr. served as an employee of The Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority (MARTA).

Joining MARTA in 1972, Dumas witnessed the evolution of Atlanta through the windows of an old 400 series bus to the modern 1886 BRT 30-footer models that are being used to take thousands of Atlantans to and from work every day today.

Having been trained by the first five Black transit workers of local 732, Dumas dealt in decoding route sheets, ensuring the seamless operation of public transportation, and driving several routes throughout his career ranging from the West End of Atlanta (his favorite area, he says) to Buckhead.  His expertise earned him the role of a trainer, a position he plans to continue doing even in retirement. 

During Dumas’ career, he has trained MARTA employees, stopped armed robberies, and driven through fluctuating weather conditions. In 2020, Dumas, Jr. started contemplating the thought of retirement, and in 2023, he exchanged the familiar routine of decoding route sheets to give way to a new chapter that commenced with early morning dog walks at 2 AM. Post-retirement, Dumas now adheres to a schedule that involves morning walks, bed-making, shared coffee moments with his wife Theresa (who Dumas will refer to as “Mama” when addressing in conversation), and engaging in the day’s errands. 

Before retirement, Dumas would wake at 2 AM with his wife and begin their shared ritual and routine, which they have maintained throughout their time together. Mrs. Dumas would begin her day preparing either coffee or tea based on her preferences, for Dumas and then oversee Dumas’ lunch and breakfast preparations, which he then would carry with him to work.

The role changes brought about by Dumas’ retirement have been transformative, said Theresa Dumas. “I’m enjoying him being around,” she said. “It’s been a shift in my shift, where breakfast may now be for him at nine or 10 in the morning,” said Dumas.

The Dumas’ found contentment in ticking off items from their bucket list, including extensive travel to locations such as Hawaii, and Mexico, and a planned trip to Ireland.

Reflecting on their marriage of 46 years as of January 1st, the couple has managed to find joy in the shared moments post-retirement. Dumas takes on the responsibility of running errands, before picking up his wife in the evenings from work at Macy’s in Kennesaw, a 30-minute drive from their home. Bus not included. 

Dumas’s other love lies in his furry friends. The couple is currently contemplating adopting a white German Shepherd. The couple currently are the owners of two dogs, Cam, a Shih Tzu, and Hannah, a Sheltie that they adopted after the death of their oldest child, Coy “Demetrius” Dumas, who passed from liver failure approximately two weeks before his 30th birthday in April of 2013. Demetrius was the second in the Dumas family to have an untimely passing. Their oldest child, Coy Dumas III passed away from a car accident while traveling back from New Orleans at the age of 24, in 2002. The couple have two other children, Takeisha Farmer and Chase Decoy Dumas, and 9 grandchildren in total.

Over the years, Dumas, Jr.’s commitment and service at MARTA did not go unnoticed. He received commendations and awards from various authorities, including Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and a proclamation from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The awards are prominently displayed around the couple’s living room.

“With the love and respect that MARTA has shown me, not just closing my 50 years, but throughout my tenure, it’s been a blessing for me to work for them,” Dumas said. “Everybody at MARTA knows how strong I am about family, and MARTA is my second family.”

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