Paul T. Stewart, who was recognized at recent school bus industry conferences in Kansas City for his lifelong service, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15. He was 100 years old.
Stewart began his more than 45-year career in school transportation in 1941 as a substitute school bus driver. At the time, he was tending to his dairy farm in Morgantown, West Virginia. He soon became director of school transportation at Monongalia County Schools. He went on to serve the industry in numerous leadership capacities during his career.
He was active in the National Safety Council during the 1960s, before returning to West Virginia in 1973 to serve as the transportation director of Kanawha County Schools, and eventually state director of pupil transportation for the West Virginia Department of Education in 1979.
He was a founding member and past president of both the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation. He spoke to members of both associations in October, and he was recognized during NASDPTS’ celebration of its 50th anniversary.
“Paul was a man for school transportation and set the foundation for NASDPTS,” said Ron Kinney, another former president of NASDPTS.
Stewart was the first inductee into the NAPT Hall of Fame. He also chaired the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conferences. In addition, he was an active participant in nine National Congresses of School Transportation that create and amend school bus specifications and procedures that are used throughout the U.S.
He was well-known for developing numerous driver training programs at the state, local and regional levels, and for spearheading the use of diesel engines in school buses. He was also instrumental in developing school bus inspection programs that became models nationwide.
Despite retiring from the West Virginia Department of Education in 1987, Stewart remained active in school bus circles for the rest of his life.
“He was a mentor in my early career, even before I was a state director,” said Charlie Hood, the current executive director of NASDPTS and a former state director for Florida. “A great leader and one of the pioneers in the southeast. He developed many best practices in school bus specifications.”
“Our school bus industry has lost a pillar of strength, wisdom, and respectability,” added Pete James, a retired local director of transportation in New York state. “He provided positive involvement and commitment to whatever the current task at hand was. I personally lost a great friend and mentor. But he left me the gift of many of his short stories, one-liners, and philosophies to ponder and pass along,”
Additionally, and most important to him, Stewart was an elder in the Church of Christ. There, he preached the gospel both at his home congregation and across the country, for the majority of his adult life.
The family is accepting online condolences at cpjfuneralhome.com.