DeKalb Central Veteran Bus Drivers

posted May 23, 2014, 5:37 AM by webmaster district   [ updated May 23, 2014, 5:37 AM ]
These four DeKalb Central school district bus drivers with a combined total of 145 years of service are retiring at the end of the school year. From front to back are Jean Gerhart, Liz DePew, Meletta Mason and Judy Pepple.  

WATERLOO — Between them, DeKalb Central school district bus drivers Jean Gerhart, Liz DePew, Meletta Mason and Judy Pepple have clocked nearly a century-and-a-half of service.  

Now the drivers — who have become firm friends — have decided it is time to hang up the keys to their buses and move on to another chapter in their lives.

The four women will retire at the end of the school year. Gerhart is the longest-serving of the group with 41 years logged as a driver. DePew is close behind with 40 years of service. Mason has given 35 years to the job and Pepple 29 years.

“I love the kids,” Mason said. “If you have no interest in kids, stay off the bus! Don’t go into this job.”

Mason was encouraged to become a school bus driver by her father, who also drove a school bus.

“I kept telling him, ‘No, I’ll never drive,’” Mason recalled with a smile.

DePew also credits her father as the one who led her to the job. He was a bus driver for 22 years and needed a substitute to drive for him, she explained.

Gerhart said she was “talked into” becoming a bus driver by her neighbor and now-retired school bus driver Ruth Walters. Gerhart said she is glad she listened to Walters.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Gerhart said. “A lot of memories, a lot of kids — some families three and four generations.”

Pepple said rarely has she had any children on her bus who caused her any problems.

“Just look at those smiles,” Gerhart said as she showed a photograph she had taken of the children on her bus route that morning.

With retirement comes more time to spend with the grandchildren, Gerhart and Pepple agreed.

DePew is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, who also is retired.

“He has wanted me to retire for some time,” she added.

Mason plans to retain her commercial driver’s license and is open to the possibility of driving a semi as well as pursuing other projects.

Gerhart said she will not miss rising early in the morning to get ready for her route.

“I’ve seen a lot of sunrises, and I’ve decided I don’t want to see them for a while,” she said. “It’s been a beautiful part of the job too — watching the sun come up.”

Article from The Star - Written by KATHRYN BASSETT