Scholarship to honor Belfast school bus driver

Posted Jan. 16, 2011, at 9:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

Brooks resident Sandy Merrifield e-mailed me recently to report that she is coordinating a fundraiser to benefit a scholarship to be established in memory of the late RSU 20 bus driver Richard LeSan of Belfast.

Merrifield told me LeSan died Jan. 2 at a Boston hospital. He was taken there by LifeFlight helicopter after a sudden heart attack Christmas Day. He was 60.

According to his obituary at www.VillageSoup.com, LeSan is survived by his wife, daughter, granddaughter, and several nieces and nephews.

The original plans were to hold a fundraiser for the family to help cover expenses, but after his unexpected death, Sandy explained, LeSan’s daughter and Sandy’s friend, Christine LeSan of Belfast, said the family would prefer to have a scholarship established to benefit children who attend RSU schools.

Christine “thought it would be more fitting to honor her dad by making this a scholarship event,” Sandy said.

LeSan was a Mason and a Shriner, she added, and was always doing things to help kids in the area.

“The kids really loved him.”

To raise funds for the scholarship, a spaghetti supper is planned for 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, at Belfast Area High School.

Admission is $5 per person, $15 for families, and the event will include a 50-50 raffle.

If you cannot attend but would like to contribute to the scholarship, you may make a check out to Sandy Merrifield and mail it to 1103 Littlefield Road, Brooks 04921. If you wish, you may write LeSan Scholarship on the memo line.

If you have questions or want more information, call Sandy at 323-0910.

Sandy said LeSan was well-known in the area and was especially dedicated to his work, which he apparently loved: driving children to and from school.

“There was a very nice article about him in VillageSoup.com,” she said.

I visited the site and read that story, and it indeed paints a picture of a gentleman all parents would want to have ensuring that their children not only got safely to school and home again but arrived there happily as well.

According to the VillageSoup.com story from Jan. 4, LeSan would check out his routes in the summer so he would be sure he knew his passengers, especially if there were newcomers.

He knew not only each student by name but also the names of their pets.

What struck me most about this story, however, was the description of LeSan and his dedication to his work by RSU 20 Superintendent Bruce Mailloux, who said “bus drivers have special roles in the eyes of students.”

Mailloux pointed out that “from a student’s perspective, the first school person they see each day is the bus driver, and the last school person they see each day is the bus driver.”

“If you’re starting off with a bad day, sometimes the bus driver can turn it around with a smile or a joke. At the end of the day, maybe a friendly ride home helps calm a student down.”

Mailloux is so right about that.

If you ever rode a school bus and had that special driver, you remember him or her.

I remember “Beanie,” who drove us to and from school and to games and activities, through all kinds of weather, day and night.

I have a friend back home whose retirement career is driving a bus for SAD 17, which serves the Oxford Hills school district.

When we visit, some of his most entertaining stories are about “his kids.”

Richard LeSan will certainly be missed, but I am sure he will never be forgotten.

···

I’m taking a brief January break.

My column returns to this section Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, Maine, 04402; javerill@bangordaily

news.com; 990-8288.

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