Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2005

Riley finally hangs up keys to bus

September 8, 2005

Barbara Riley didn't make her mark of driving third-generation children, but after a 37-year career of driving buses for the Baldwin School District, Riley decided to hang up her keys prior to the beginning of the school year.

"I thought it was pretty neat to drive second-generation kids," Riley said. "I said when I started driving their grandkids, I would quit, but I never made it that far. I loved driving their children.

Riley said the time was right for her to quit and let someone new behind the wheel.

"I have some health problems and I am 73 years old," Riley said. "I thought I would hand the keys over to the younger drivers."

Riley enjoyed her time as a bus driver and loved all of the children she met.

"I loved it. That's why I stayed 37 years. I loved the kids and every day was a different day with different challenges," Riley said. "I enjoyed every minute of it, except when there was ice on the ground."

Marleen Harris was a passenger on Riley's route early in her career. Harris remembers how special Riley was to her.

"She was wonderful," Harris said. "She was very caring. She was interested in you as a person and your safety. She was always smiling and was a very good person."

Harris was not shocked to hear the news of the retirement.

"I wasn't surprised, because she has driven for a very long time," Harris said. "I was sad to hear it, because she is so caring, but she deserves to retire. She drove for a long time."

Transportation Supervisor Linda Russell said she loved being around Riley and knew she could count on her everyday.

"I always enjoyed working with her," Russell said. "She was always very dependable. She is always very kind and sweet. We will all miss her and wish her a happy and healthy retirement. I am going to miss her, that's for sure."

Since Riley kept her bus at home, she would only come to Baldwin when she needed to during the last couple years, because of health problems.

"She always drove the Marion Springs area and the past few years she would just come into Baldwin when she needed fuel," Russell said. "I didn't see her as much as I did in the past, but you could always depend on her."

Riley became a bus driver because there was an opening in the district when one of her sons entered middle school.

"I asked what I had to do to get a license," Riley said. "Then I began driving the kindergarten route."

Riley drove many routes during her stint as a bus driver, including the kindergarten and vocational-technical routes. But she mainly drove the Marion Springs route during her 37 years.

Russell began driving for the district early in Riley's tenure and she said she learned a lot from her as a driver.

"I've always looked up to Barb," Russell said. "I started driving in 1976. I would ask her different questions, like how she handled stuff on the bus. It asked about everything from students to bad roads."

Riley's late husband, Charles Riley, also drove for the district for nearly 20 years.

The transportation system in the district saw many changes during Riley's time, many of which she remembers. The ones that stick in her mind are being without radios and the road conditions.

Riley is now enjoying her retirement and spending time with her grandchildren.

"I am just taking some time off to decide where I want to go next," Riley said. "I might do a little traveling."

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