BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Celebrating five decades in service, Butch Peters started driving buses for the North Boone School District in 1971.
Fifty years later, friends and co-workers celebrated the milestone with him.
“He’s been a great friend and supportive. Anytime something happens, in fact not that many months ago, my mother passed away. He was one of the first ones there to see me and he knew my mother really, really well, too, and that’s just the kind of person he is. He’s there for everybody,” said friend and co-worker, Denny Jeffers.
Peters and Jeffers say they’ve known each other nearly their entire lives and have driven kids to and from school together for the last twenty years.
“It’s pretty special, out there helping the community all the time,” Jeffers said. “[He does] whatever it is, whenever somebody needs some help. Butch is there to help. Just the way he is.”
Peters said he is truly grateful for the recognition and acknowledges that schools are struggling to hire bus drivers right now.
He believes fear of students and crime plays a large role.
“I think they’re intimidated by the size of the bus, and they’re worried about the kids,” Peter said.
Peters said he hopes that as pandemic restrictions continue to loosen, hiring bus drivers will be easier.
He said he hopes that he’s had a positive impact on the students.
“I always say, ‘If you were good, I probably don’t remember you. If you were bad, I probably remember you.’ You know, I’m sorry, but no, I just love the kids and see how they develop and grow up and be in the community, and supportive, and see how they do in life,” he said.
Peters says he still hasn’t decided when he will retire, and plans to be out driving a bus this fall.
Many schools throughout Illinois have been experiencing a bus driver shortage, local school districts said.