Bob Bryant holds a school bus trophy engraved with the words “Best Bus Driver – Bob Bryant – Happy Retirement 2019.” Bryant was presented the trophy by Blake Bellemare, 9, and Ellie Bellemare, 6, two of the students he drove on his bus route. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jody Cyr walks up to Bob Bryant’s school bus to say “thank you” on Bryant’s last day before retiring. “Bob is such a sweet, kind man. We are going to miss him so much,” Cyr said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Motorists stuck behind school bus No. 18 on Tuesday morning had to wait a bit longer than usual.

Families of students along Bob Bryant’s route walked to the end of their driveways and put their children on the bus, but many climbed on as well.

Parents gave Bryant hugs, cards and small gifts while holding signs that read, “We will miss you Bob.”

“I never saw this coming,” said Bryant, who retired from driving a school bus Tuesday. “I even got this from the mayor’s wife,” Bryant said, holding up a bag of coffee cake.

“Bob is such a sweet, kind man,” said Jody Cyr after giving Bryant a hug and sending her two daughters off to school. “We are going to miss him so much.”

East Auburn Community School students Audrey, Casey and Ryan Mileikis hold a message for their bus driver, Bob Bryant, as Bryant pulls up to take the children to school on Tuesday. Bryant retired on Tuesday after driving the same route for 19 years. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

This is Bryant’s second retirement. He drove an 18-wheeler for 40 years and logged 3½ million miles. He said one of his last truck-driving jobs was delivering steel beams for the construction of the Cumberland County Civic Center, which was built in 1977.

Erin Bellemare puts a “Happy Retirement Bob!” banner in her front yard before Bob Bryant’s school bus arrives to pick up Bellemare’s children for school in Auburn on Tuesday. Bellemare is a 2004 graduate of Edward Little High School and rode Bryant’s school bus herself. Her children, Blake and Ellie, rode Bryant’s bus for the last time on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Bryant figures he has topped 4 million miles once he adds his 19 years of driving students to school and athletic events.

“It’s time to retire,” said Bryant, who remarried in 2018 after losing his first wife to cancer 11 years ago.

Bryant and his wife, Martha, met at church and plan to travel with a local seniors group. They leave for Cincinnati in a few weeks where they plan to visit the city’s museums and go on a riverboat cruise along the Ohio River.

“I’m really sad that Bob is leaving,” Cyr said. “We are losing a friend and someone that knows our children and puts their safety first.”

Ellie Bellemare, 6, runs to her family and teachers to let them know that Bob Bryant’s school bus is coming in Auburn on Tuesday. Bellemare, a kindergarten student at East Auburn Community School, and her brother, Blake, ride Bryant’s bus to and from school. Bellemare’s family and teachers surprised Bryant with “thank you” signs, balloons and a trophy on Bryant’s last day before retiring. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal


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