A four-decade veteran of the school transportation industry and a founder of the NAPT Foundation, Rewel A. Bynum — known simply as “Buster” by many of his contemporaries — died on Nov. 16. He was 92.
Bynum served as a director of pupil transportation at the local and state government levels from 1956 through 1991. He began his career as the first full-time supervisor of pupil transportation in Mecklenburg County in Virginia.
He joined the Virginia Department of Education on Aug. 1, 1962, as pupil transportation assistant supervisor and 10 years later was appointed to the state director position. He served in that capacity until he retired in September 1991.
He was inducted into the National Pupil Transportation Association (NAPT) Hall of Fame on Oct. 31, 1999. He was also enshrined in the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation Hall of Fame.
“Mr. Bynum was instrumental in securing funding and political support for the infant NAPT,” the NAPT association’s website states. “After the Rural Education Division of the National Education Association decided to forego assistance for the association, Buster encouraged a variety of sponsors, including the State Directors Association, to join forces and move forward with a plan to strengthen the industry and its various constituencies.”
Bynum also served as the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference (SESPTC) treasurer from 1984 to 2013. Derek Graham, the current SESPTC treasurer, said Bynum was passionate about the conference, the professional development opportunities it provides, and the relationships fostered within the industry.
SESPTC named a scholarship in Bynum’s honor and annually awards $2,000 to deserving college students in each of the 14 member states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. To qualify, students must have a parent actively working in school transportation.
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Prior to his school transportation career, Bynum served in the U.S. Army 47th Infantry Division as a sergeant first class. He was commander of American Legion Post 43 and an active and long-time member of the North Richmond Kiwanis Club, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities and serving children. He was also an active member of Chamberlayne Baptist Church until the church closed in 2021.
Bynum is survived by two sons, Stephen and Ryan, three grandsons, Tyler, Jason and Jake, and Sophie, the Blue Pitbull. He is also survived by his sister, Virginia Steagall, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by Ruth, his wife of 60 years.
A memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 5 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.