There’s a photo of Darlene Gallop Hooks at a United Motorcoach Association EXPO with a serene smile and a lizard comfortably settled on her head. The photo seems to sum up her best qualities, which her son, Jimmy Hall, described as her sense of humor and being laid back.
It was a good combination for being in the bus business, an industry that can be challenging.
Hooks, the former president of Venture Tours in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is remembered as an industry leader. She died on May 24 at age 73.
Hooks was born into the bus business. She was 4 years old when she began helping her father, Ray Gallop Jr., clean buses. She learned to work on the maintenance side of the business with her brother as she got older and eventually moved into the office, handling all the bookkeeping, finances, dispatching, pricing and other duties.
Her son said she was particularly adept at keeping up with all the corporate and Department of Transportation reports every year.
Hall described his mom as a hardworking, talented, soft-spoken person with a humble spirit, yet she also possessed the determination of a raging lion. The buck stopped with Hooks, who could stand up to a demanding customer with an unrelenting no.
“She would say you can always use me as your fallback guy if you don’t feel comfortable saying no. She was pretty much blunt and straight to the point,” Hall said.
Learned all aspects of the industry
As a single parent raising Hall, she worked several retail jobs before joining Gallop Bus Lines in the early 1970s as her dad’s secretary, handling the office duties but also driving the motor coaches. Hall said passengers had a hard time believing that his petite mom could drive a bus, without power steering at the time. She smiled and impressed them with her skills.
Hooks worked tirelessly for her father in the male-dominated industry for the next 40 years. She obtained a dealer’s license, which afforded her the opportunity to buy and sell automobiles at the car auctions. When her dad didn’t leave her that bus company despite her role in making it a success, Hooks started a new one with Hall in 1994, initially called Halls Bus Lines.
Outside of the company, Hooks served on the board of the Calypso program for National Interstate. She was a member of the Women in Bus Council and the Virginia Motorcoach Association.
“VMA offers its heartfelt prayers and sympathies to our Venture Tours family on the loss of family matriarch Darlene Gallop Hooks,” the organization shared in a Facebook tribute to Hooks.
Hooks was a woman of many passions. She was a talented markswoman, participating in many turkey shoots, upstaging many of the men who entered the contest. She studied tae kwon do and won many trophies, and she played the pans for the Mosaic Steel Orchestra of Norfolk, Virginia. She also enjoyed going to car shows, showing off her 1955 Ford Fairlane. It had 70,000 original miles on it and has been passed down through the family since it was new, winning several first-place awards in shows.
“Her accomplishments were endless. She moved in a very quiet, meticulous manner, but always purposeful,” Hall said. “Her gentle, mild-mannered voice that spoke volumes will be sorely missed by many.”
He said his mom found her soulmate in Sebastian O. Scott. They spent the past 15 years working together at Venture Tours. Scott, an extrovert, complimented Hooks’ more quiet personality.
Services are planned for June 3 at 10 a.m. at the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home on Tidewater Drive in Norfolk, Virginia, with a graveside service to follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery. A celebration/reception will take place shortly after at Aberdeen Barn Steakhouse on Northampton Boulevard.