Longtime student transporter and retired superintendent George Sontag, Jr., died at his home on Nov. 15, reported the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation (OAPT). Sontag was 81.
A funeral service is scheduled for Nov. 19 with a private burial ceremony to follow in Miamiville, Ohio.
“George was, still, and will always be a staple of the Centerville City Schools Transportation Department,” Andy Trick, the transportation supervisor for Centerville City Schools near Dayton, Ohio, told School Transportation News. “From the George Sontag Jr. Transportation Center to the George Sontag Way transportation driveway, his many staff members will always remember his kind smile, his many stories and his excellent leadership of our department. In his 57 years in pupil transportation, George was instrumental in creating advanced safety standards for Ohio school buses that has kept millions of students safe each and every school day. We thank him for his so many years of service and he will be missed.”
Sontag was one of the first individuals to receive a lifetime membership from OAPT. He served as the association’s president in 1974 and followed with a second term in 1998.
Hanford L. Combs founded the OAPT with charter members in 1960. The organization was founded to encourage professional development and to provide administrator training. OAPT has worked to provide safe transportation for Ohio’s students, as a transportation affiliate of the Ohio Association of School Bus Officials.
Sontag also won the association’s William Rice Award of Excellence in 2002. The award recognizes administrators in the field of school transportation who exhibit professional and outstanding leadership and conduct while also making significant contributions to pupil transportation. OAPT said it is the highest honor that can be given to a pupil transportation administrator in the state.
In 2013, OAPT also named its School Bus Driver of the Year Award after Sontag.
His obituary states that he was known as a dedicated school bus driver, who was never too busy to share a caring word with the students on his routes.
Born in Miamiville, Ohio, George Russell Sontag, Jr., began his career in school transportation by working on school buses at the age of 13. In 1957, at age 18, he was driving a school bus that was owned by the small garage he worked for, transporting students in Indian Hills.
Eight years later in 1965, George was hired by the Indian Hill Local School District as its transportation supervisor. He continued to drive school buses and was also the fleet mechanic.
Sontag was later hired in 1974 as the transportation supervisor at Milford Exempted Village School District, where he managed over 50 school bus drivers. While continuing his profession in school transportation, he worked with both OAPT and the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) as a participating board member, conference planner, and school transportation consultant. He also was an expert witness in multiple court cases involving school transportation. After 34 years of school transportation service, he retired from Milford in 1991.
A year and a half after Sontag’s retirement, he accepted the position of transportation supervisor at Centerville City Schools. He and his family moved to Centerville, where he also ran an auto repair business.
Sontag is survived by his wife of 60 years, Barbara; sons George R. Sontag, III (Lori) and John (Denise) Sontag; daughter Joan Sontag; grandchildren Dr. George R. Sontag, IV, Matthew, Kathryn, and Benjamin Sontag; great-grandchildren Carley and Matthew Joseph Sontag; and sisters Barbara (John) Trent and Martha Jones.