Blue Bird has asked all the flags at its various locations to be flown at half-staff in honor of Albert L. “Buddy” Luce, Jr., who died Wednesday evening. He was 94.
Blue Bird President and CEO Phil Horlock announced Luce’s passing in a memo to employees on Thursday.
Luce was born on July 31, 1922, the second of three sons to parents Albert Laurence Luce Sr. and Helen Tryphena Mathews Luce. At the time, Luce Sr. owned a number of Ford dealers in Georgia, and would soon begin building buses to transport local workers, farmers and students.
According to a history compiled by CoachBuilt.com, amid the Great Depression and shrinking car sales, Luce Sr. was forced to close his Fort Valley, Georgia, location by the end of 1931. A year later, he had to sell the other location in Perry, Georgia, as well. He then invested his last $12,000 to build 25 bus bodies, most of which were sold to operators who used them to transport children to and from school. After this, Blue Bird was officially formed.
“While we are deeply saddened to hear of Buddy’s passing, we should remember the fulfilling life he lived,” Horlock said in the memo. “At nearly 95 years old, Buddy was able to experience many great things, and see this company become what it is today. The Luce family truly built a legacy that will forever be a part of this company’s and our nation’s history. Buddy will live long in our memories.”
Luce was preceded in death by his father, who died of pneumonia after suffering a heart attack in 1962; his mother, who died in 1976; his oldest brother, George Edgar Luce, who died in 1990; and his youngest brother, Joseph Parley Luce, who died in 2006.
Funeral arrangements were unavailable at this writing.