The Pleasant Valley community is mourning a bus driver who transported at least two generations of students safely to and from school.
Evalea L. McBride, 75, of Bettendorf, died Wednesday at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf.
“She drove a bus for us for 43 years,” Pleasant Valley Schools Superintendent Jim Spelhaug said Friday. “She drove my kids.”
“She was kind of law and order,” Spelhaug said. “You didn’t screw around on Evalea’s bus.”
“She had high expectations for students, for their safety,” said incoming Superintendent Brian Strusz.
Ray LaFrentz, district director of operations, has worked for the district for 42 years, so he had a long working relationship with McBride. LaFrentz started as a fleet supervisor who worked with the drivers.
“I don’t know too many people who didn’t appreciate or like Evalea,” he said. “She was a nice person to be around.”
In 2010, McBride was featured in the Bettendorf News, where she was recognized for 34 years of driving a bus. According to the article, her career started when she was looking for a way to earn extra money. A friend, a Pleasant Valley bus driver, said she should consider driving a school bus.
At the time, McBride had three young children, two in school, and she saw an opportunity to earn money and have flexibility with her children.
In the interview, McBride said the increasing use of cell phones made other drivers “less attentive and more dangerous.”
She remembered her only close call, when she was driving on an ice-covered rural road. The bus, with students, began to slide backward toward the ditch. She told the students to hang on.
The bus didn’t roll over, and the students safely exited the vehicle.
A wrecker arrived to pull the bus out of the ditch, and slid past the bus on the ice. Rock was scattered on the road for traction.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pleasant Valley, where she had served as church secretary for 29 years.
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at McGinnis-Chambers Funeral Home, Bettendorf.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center in Iowa City or Scott County Extension Service.