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Student bus driver turned foreman retires

After 43 years of working with the Halifax County Public School system, Steve Davis, shop foreman at the transportation department, will retire effective June 30.

Davis began his career as a student bus driver in 1968. After driving the bus for a couple years he moved to the bus shop and began working as a mechanic in 1970, a job he continued through 1977 when he was promoted to shop foreman, a position he has held for the past 35 years.

During a typical day in the life of foreman, Davis begins with an early morning, a little after six when he pours a cup of coffee, reads the paper and gets caught up on paperwork. The official workday doesn’t begin until 7 a.m., but there’s always something to be done.

“If a driver calls in sick or out, I have to find another driver. I do the time cards, purchase orders come in, listen for the phone, it’s always something,” said Davis.

The decision to retire wasn’t a hard one to make for the veteran bus foreman. The tenured employee said although he had been thinking about it for a couple of years, it was a particular article in a magazine that sparked the idea.

After reading an article several times in the magazine Southern Living, titled “Fine Art of Piddling,” Davis said that made his decision final.

“It was the icing on the cake,” said Davis of his decision to retire.

“And I’m going to spend my time piddling,” he added.

Looking back over his four decades spent with the transportation department, Davis can recall when the buses ran on gas instead of diesel, when hoods were tied together by belts, and they used tube tires instead of tubeless.

Of course now with all the changes, there are automatic buses and air brakes, and “technology has complicated things.”

However through the years his favorite part of the job has always been dealing with the people.

“It’s never the same day on this job. Every day there is something different,” said Davis. “But we’re all like one big family,. It’s a wonderful place to work.”

Despite the big change that retirement will present for Davis after working for so many years at the same job, he plans to spend his days “piddling,” spend more time with his wife, Teresa, gardening, fishing and hopefully do some traveling.

“I still feel I can get out and do stuff, and my wife and I are planning to go back to Alaska…I might go buy a motorcycle, you never know,” said Davis.

During his time with the school system, Davis said he has worked with five different superintendents, has seen bus drivers come and go and some even pass away.

One thing he has always strived to do in his four-decade career is to make sure the kids are always safe, and he always pushed hard for safety.

“The buses aren’t hauling rocks or salt, they are carrying kids, and I always make sure they are safe when they leave from here,” said Davis.

Although the job sometimes required Davis to get up at midnight to go pick up a stranded activity bus, or go push snow, he never complained.

“I’ve made a good living, and it’s been fun…it’s been a real ride,” said Davis.

At this time, Davis said he doesn’t know what the school system will do with his vacant position, although he plans to fulfill his retirement obligations.

Davis resides in Halifax with his wife, and they have two daughters, Sara and Emily.