Education

School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel

By The Associated Press — January 04, 2022 3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
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Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.

“I’ve been a bus driver 48 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Flick. “I just like being with the kids. We tell stories and talk and in the morning I have the radio on low.”

Flick has seen three generations of Comets on her bus. Many of the kids she has driven, no matter how old they are now, remember her and come up to her to say hello.

“I was playing miniature golf with my granddaughter one day and this guy came over with gray hair and a gray mustache. He said ‘Betty, I just thought I should come over and say hi’,” said Flick. “I could tell it was him by his eyes. They change so much when they get older, but they never forget.”

Coordinator of Operations Sam Gaston, who has worked with Flick for 28 years, told the Globe Gazette that Flick’s presence was going to be missed by her and other bus drivers.

“(Flick) can always be the spitfire of the party,” Gaston said with a smile. “She always has a bright personality. She is always laughing and giggly.”

Flick’s route was around 32 miles, which isn’t long according to her because she had too many kids on her bus. Flick would drop off kids to all five housing districts in Charles City then head out into the country to take those kids home. On her bus were kids from kindergarten to 12th grade, with the younger ones sitting in the front and the older ones in the back.

I like to be with the kids. If I didn’t like being with the kids, I wouldn’t do it because nobody likes winter driving.

Flick has had five or six buses, with her final bus being bus named Orange. Bus Orange was cleaned and sparkly for her last time driving.

People came out to her route in the morning to wave and wish Flick well on her last day. Some people gave her cards, gifts, and made her signs to show their appreciation. One was a framed photograph of her and a former student, who now works for the district.

“I told my daughter ‘I don’t think this day could be better,’” said Flick.

“(Flick) definitely impacted all of (the students) I think. I don’t think there’s a single one she hasn’t,” said Gaston.

Flick became a bus driver because she needed a job and her belief that she could do it. Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.

“I like to be with the kids. If I didn’t like being with the kids, I wouldn’t do it because nobody likes winter driving,” said Flick.

Each year Flick has driven for the district has always brought something unexpected for her. An example that she used was when she discovered her cat had made it onto the bus, jumped out the window, and went home.

Flick decided to retire to have a little bit more time in the day to enjoy life and because she did not want to drive through another winter season. Flick will still be working as a house cleaner since it is only for short periods of time. She added she hasn’t thought too deeply of what to do next but would like to do an Alaskan cruise again.

“I’m 78-years-old. I think I would like to go for lunch and coffee with my friends and try that for a change. But I will miss the kids,” said Flick.

Gaston and other drivers had her say for the final time “give her the beans” to send her off, a phrase she would say to get the bus line going since she was the last in line.

“She would see all the kids and when there was no kids, she would holler to the first bus ‘give her the beans’ and then everybody would pull out,” said Gaston.

At the end of the day on Tuesday, Flick was given a police escort on Court Street out past Elks Lodge as a farewell. Lights and a bit of noise was made as she passed through the neighborhood in a big, yellow bus for the last time.

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