These are my thoughts and memories about my lifelong friend Carlisle Beasley.
I first met Carlisle Beasley (CB) back in the late 1960s. I was a transportation director in California and I was trying to get national recognition for School Bus Safety Week. Carlisle was the transportation director of Nashville, Tennessee, with about 300 buses at the time.
He didn’t know me, but he wanted the project to succeed. He knew I had no budget, so he began sending me stamps, so I could mail out flyers. Later, he agreed to be the state rep helping to promote School Bus Safety Week.
When I finally met Carlisle in person, he made me feel at home the moment I walked in the door. I remember his office; it was bigger than any other transportation director’s office I had ever seen. He had a big state flag on one side of the desk and the American flag on the other. The desk was bigger than most, but he did not sit behind it when he talked to you, he sat on your side.
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His primary focus was always on the side of safer school buses, driver training, and most importantly, the people who worked hard every day for the safety of the child. His heart and soul were way bigger than his office.
He loved everyone, even those who thought he should have taken this side or that in pupil transportation issues. CB was for only safety for the kid’s nationwide, and for his drivers and staff. He always said the biggest and most rewarding award he received was that during his lengthy tenure, no child was killed, and there were no major accidents. Given the length of his service and the size of his operation, that was a noteworthy accomplishment.
How do you replace a person like that? You cannot because there was only one CB. That is the person whom I loved as a true friend for 60 years. He received many well-deserved awards and professional recognition. But for me, I’ll always remember the true southern gentlemen with the twangy southern drawl, his ready sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself.
And most of all, his expansive generosity and loving heart. The gates of heaven opened up on Monday with his mom and dad and brothers waiting for him—and the kids in heaven waiting for the new director of school bus heavenly transport.
Rest well, my great friend. Yours was a life well-lived. I am a better person for having had the privilege of knowing and working with you.
Thanks, buddy. See you down the road.
Fischer is a school bus safety consultant based in Colorado. He succeeded in having President Nixon recognize the first federal School Bus Safety Week in 1969.