After 41 years, Bobbi Rath is retiring as a school bus driver for the USD 231 district. Rath has lived in Gardner all her life and graduated in 1952. Her parents, Bill and Bettie Fraser, were also born here.
She followed a family tradition, her mother Bettie Frasier was the first woman bus driver here in the late 50’s.
“Time goes by so fast,” Rath said. “I hate to give it up, but it’s time.”
Rath has seen several changes over the years. For one thing, buses are now automatic. When she first started, they had manual transmissions and seemed to break down a lot. “We have good mechanics out here now,” she said.
Busses now also have radios, which might have helped early one dark morning when she hit a black cow. “I hit a cow,” she said. “It was early in the morning.” Although the cow was killed, no one was hurt, and the bus suffered only minor damage.
Driving in snowy weather has also changed, especially on rural routes where snow often drifted as high as the mirrors.
“When I drove the snow was drifted up to the mirrors,” she said. “There were no radios, we just plowed on thru.” Only one time did a car slide into her, and nobody was hurt, although she and two children were transported to the hospital just to be checked out.
“That was rural,” she said. “It’s a lot different nowadays.”
Currently Rath drives a special education and pre school bus, and the children are all wonderful, she said.
“I hate to give it up but it’s time,” she said. “Grandkids keep begging me to quit. Life goes by so fast.” She has 22 grandkids, and eight of those are great grandchildren.
“I want some time just to enjoy life a little bit,” she said. “Spend time with grandkids.”
Rath said she has enjoyed working as a bus driver, and appreciated the opportunity to work with so many people through the years.
“It’s a great job if you like kids,” she said. “Just like Bob Hope, thanks for the memories.”