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Bus driver retires after 41 years

Jean Briscoe with the Hartselle school bus she drove for special needs children until her retirement on Nov. 30. | Clif Knight

Jean Briscoe made her last run as a special needs school bus driver on Fri., Nov. 30, ending a career that spanned more than 41 years.

She was honored by her co-workers at a retirement luncheon on Wed., Nov. 28, as Hartselle City Schools’ longest-tenured bus driver.

Briscoe began her bus-driving career at the age of 18, when she was a senior at the former Morgan County High School.

“My husband, William “Buddy” Briscoe, was driving a bus at that time,” she pointed out. “He got another job and I took over his route.”

She later drove a bus for Sparkman School and hired on as a driver for Hartselle City Schools, Aug. 20, 1982.

After so many years on the same job, Briscoe expressed mixed emotions about leaving.

“I love those kids,” Briscoe said. “Some of them have been riding my bus the entire six years I’ve driven a special needs bus.

“That’s the bad part about leaving. All they want is love and attention. I’m going to really miss them. I’ll also miss the day-to-day contact I‘ve had with my coworkers for so long.”

Briscoe said retirement would give her extra time to spend with her two adult children, a son and a daughter, and six grandchildren. She is also looking forward to doing some traveling and sightseeing with her husband.

“He (Buddy) plans to retire from BP in about two years,” she said. “When that happens, we’ll probably buy a truck and camper and do some traveling.”

Briscoe left open the possibility of doing some substitute driving in the future but only as a special needs bus sub and only in the case of an emergency.

“I wouldn’t want my name to be moved up on the sub list and take away a job from someone who needs it more,” she said.

Briscoe drove Bus #12 for 10 passengers and logged 25 miles a day. She has maintained a near perfect safety record and doesn’t recall ever having a breakdown.

“The joy of my career has been taking care of the kids,” Briscoe said. “Time has gone by so fast. It’s hard for me to believe that lately I’ve been driving for the grandchildren of the children who rode my bus when I started driving.”