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Driving the Bus

It’s that time of year again, when kids board buses to get to school and motorists become annoyed at the traffic tie-ups the school buses cause.

Although driving a school bus is an awesome responsibility, it is not an all-day job. Drivers get behind the wheel in the morning, again in the afternoon and occasionally after hours or on weekends to transport athletes, band members, choristers and students going on field trips.

Many drivers are farmers or housewives, who have plenty of work to keep them busy during the day, but need the extra income. Retired police, firefighters and truck drivers also find driving a school bus to be satisfying.

More school bus drivers died in the last few weeks than can be included in this report. Here are a few of the many:

Adele “Dell” Dorothy Schweers Hatcher, 85, of Dunnellon, Florida, attended night school and got her GED, according to the obituary in the Citrus County Chronicle.

“She became a Citrus County school bus driver and worked in the lunchroom at the Dunnellon school. While driving the bus she was offered a chance to drive students to the Vo-tech school in Inverness, where she also attended class and graduated from the Secretarial program. She became a secretary for Citrus County Health Department, and then Citrus County Schools Transportation Department until retirement.”

“She and her husband, Jake, were active supporters of the Dunnellon High School Athletic Department and made many, many trips transporting athletes to events, which led to their selection for the 1969 award, Parents of the Year.”

Linda Aldaz (Las Cruces Sun-News)As a school bus driver for the Gadsden Independent School District, Linda G. Aldaz, 55, “was well known for her big smile and wave, as well the ‘lady with the sunglasses’” according to the obituary in the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Sun-News.

Randall Townsend (Salt Lake Tribune)Randall Lynn Townsend “was employed by the Davis School District as a school bus driver, a job that Randy enjoyed very much,” according to the obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune.

“He was also a bus driver for Trailways and UTA. Randy had always said that bus driving was in his blood, because our dad had driven tour buses in Yellowstone Park.”

Franklyn A. Grower Jr., 81, a retired captain of the Oneida (New York) Police Department, “drove school bus for the Oneida City School District from 1970-94 and earned a record of 24 accident-free years,” according to the obit in the Oneida Daily Dispatch.

Emma Jean Beighton, 79, “was affectionately know as ‘Jean the Bus Driver’ for many years due to her employment as school bus driver for over 25 years and as a Racine City Bus Driver, later retiring as a dispatcher in 1991,” according to the obit in the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press.

“She enjoyed crocheting and spending many long hours touring the United States with her husband Lloyd on the back of their motorcycle.”

Cindy Miller (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)Cindy Lee (Papaz) Miller, 54, of Oxford, Massachusetts, “earned her CDL to drive yellow buses, working at Laidlaw,” according to the obit in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “The last ten years she drove a little yellow school-bus for Town of Oxford transporting special needs children. She treated them like her own, singing songs with them, and buying them birthday and Christmas presents. The children loved her.”

Listed along with family among her survivors are bus parent friends and bus children whom she loved.

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.