Retired school bus driver misses youngsters


September 25, 1997|By Judy Reilly | Judy Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Last week's Neighbors column by Judy Reilly reported on the retirement of Bob Devilbiss after 45 years of driving school Bus No. 5.

Her column should have said that in the 1950s Devilbiss drove the bus to New Windsor High School. The Devilbiss farm was a dairy farm. Judy apologizes for the errors.

Ed McDonough's Northwest neighborhood column appears Thursdays in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 10/01/97

BOB DEVILBISS remembers when a first-grader boarded the school bus to the old Uniontown Elementary School for the first time. The youngster had a paddle in his hand, and turned it over to Devilbiss, the bus driver.


"My mommy said to give this to you, and you can spank me with it if I'm bad," the boy said.

During his 45-year career, Devilbiss made sure thousands of youngsters got to school on time and returned safely to their homes. With calmness, patience, and a shy smile, he negotiated country roads in any weather and tolerated the chatter and noise that comes with a bus load of kids.

Devilbiss retired for health reasons at last school year's end, and sold Bus No. 5.

When his career began, Devilbiss took public school students to Uniontown Elementary and high schools in Union Bridge, Taneytown and New Windsor. His career ended after more than 20 years of driving students to Northwest Middle and Francis Scott Key High schools. He owned four buses in that time, and drove them about 14,000 miles a year.

Devilbiss' career began when he got out of the service in World War II. He was newly married.

His father, Thomas Devilbiss, minded Uniontown General Store, worked a dairy farm, and was a school bus driver.

Bob followed his father's lead. Retail and farm business could fluctuate with the economy and the weather, but the county Board of Education sent a regular paycheck for driving a bus.

The steady paycheck, and his appreciation for children, kept him in the driver's seat for 45 years.

Like his father, Bob worked a combination of three jobs for years -- tending to cattle before driving the bus, then transporting schoolchildren, minding the store with his sister Toots Devilbiss and then driving the bus again to take children home. The day ended with more chores on the farm.

Bob kept up this pace until six years ago when he sold the family farm. With his retirement from bus driving, he has one job -- working at the general store from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day but Sunday.

Occasionally, Bob or his wife, Mib, will run into someone who rode Bus No. 5. Sometimes former riders stop by the general store to visit their former bus driver.

Bob misses the students, especially those he would take to school and later see at the general store.

"All in all, it's been pretty good to me," he said of the career he's left behind.

Lions learn about blueprints

The weekly Lions Club meeting in Union Bridge is one of the best-kept secrets in Northwest Carroll.

Every Tuesday, members meet for dinner, camaraderie and community business. At one meeting, I learned about a proposal for a health clinic; at another, I listened to living history of the Civil War.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Lions heard from Kelly Ann Foster, a faculty member in Penn State University's landscape architecture department. She presented "Blueprints," an educational multimedia presentation of practical land-use regulatory techniques.

Foster's university department created an easy-to-use computer program that illustrates the impact of regulations on town growth and development.

Issues such as agricultural preservation, community character, natural systems, sign control, streetscapes and tree preservation are shown in the program.

Foster's program is the winner of the Pennsylvania Planning Association's Current Topic Award and can be used to help visualize community growth.

Information: Stanley Holcombe, 410-775-2270.

Moving along

For the past four years, I have written about community events and people I've met in Northwest Carroll. Discovering this part of the county -- with its simple pleasures, country lanes, generous spirit and unassuming people -- has been a daily pleasure.

Sharing it with The Sun's readers has been a privilege. Now it's time to move on. Thanks to all who have read this space and enjoyed the discoveries with me.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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