Mr. Varnadoe, who grew up in Georgia, lived with his wife, Marjorie Pitman Varnadoe, 72, on St. Simons Island.
The couple moved into their house in 1976, Mr. Kozlowski said, adding that Mr. Varnadoe liked to remark that “their truck pulled into their driveway on July 4.”
In the weeks leading up to their departure on the train trip, Mr. Varnadoe watched videos about journeys by rail and excitedly shared them with his co-workers, saying he and his wife would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
“On his way out, he said, ‘This is our trip of a lifetime,’” Mr. Kozlowski said.
As the couple headed west from Washington, D.C., at the start of the trip on Friday, Mr. Varnadoe called the office to tell his colleagues how much fun they were having, Mr. Kozlowski said.
They had a son, Jason, and a grandson, Parker, and a daughter-in-law, Millie, he said.
Ms. Varnadoe, a retired educator, was a tireless volunteer for various causes, Mr. Kozlowski later wrote in a text message. “Don said she couldn’t say no,” he wrote.
Relatives and friends recalled happy visits at the couple’s home, fishing, playing cards and sharing walks, according to memories posted on an online condolence page.
Ms. Varnadoe was a teacher, principal, personnel director and assistant superintendent in the Glynn County, Ga., public schools, The Brunswick News reported. Her husband served on the school board for four years.
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