Ohio Pupil Transportation Community Mourns Unexpected Death of State Director

ohio capital
The Ohio capital building in Columbus.

Stephen Puchta, who last spring was named the director of field services and pupil transportation for the Ohio Department of Education, died early Wednesday. He was 65.

Stephen Puchta

The Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation announced the news Thursday morning. OAPT said that Puchta died at 1:03 a.m. local time on Wednesday at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. No cause of dead was confirmed as of this report.

OAPT said Thursday that the association had an “incredible working relationship” with Puchta during his time at the department of education. Puchta succeeded Robert Harmon, who retired last year.

“We know you join us in offering prayers and love to his family and friends at this time,” he added in an email to association members.

Puchta was a former director of transportation at Anthony Wayne Local School District and also served as a superintendent at several school districts, retiring as superintendent of Upper Sandusky High School in 2006.

OAPT said Thursday evening that a visitation is scheduled for March 17 from 2 to 7 p.m. at Stombaugh-Batton Funeral Home in Carey, Ohio and one hour prior to a funeral service the next day at 11:00 a.m. at West Independence United Methodist Church, in West Independence, Ohio. Burial will follow at Highland Memory Gardens in Waterville, Ohio.

Memorial contributions may be made to Vanlue Schools or Cedar Creek Church and sent to Stombaugh-Batton Funeral Home, 225 W. Findlay St., Carey, Ohio 43316-1169.

Online condolences may be sent to: StombaughBatton.com

Puchta was born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio on Oct. 9, 1953 to the late Donald W. and Betty K. (Hendricks) Puchta. He married Resa L. Gaertner on Aug. 23, 1975 at West Independence United Methodist Church.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Bluffton College and a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

Puchta is survived by his wife Betty, daughters Amber (Martin) Geretz, Findlay, Kendra (Alex) Coberley, Waterville and Lauren (Branden) Bowes, North Canton, Ohio, seven grandchildren, siblings, Gloria Mullen, David (Nikki) Puchta, Findlay, Neil (Vicki) Puchta, and Carey and Cindy Billock.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation’s email to members regarding Puchta’s death.