Marking the 30th anniversary of SCHOOL BUS FLEET's Administrator of the Year award, Editor Steve Hirano presented the award posthumously to Dennis Essary, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Portland, Ore., on June 27 at the age of 54.
Essary’s wife, Pauline, and two sons, Bryan and Mathew, accepted the award on his behalf at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT) 2003 conference and trade show, held in early November in Salt Lake City.
At the time of his death, Essary was transportation director at Beaverton (Ore.) School District, where he had worked since 1997. He supervised more than 250 employees and oversaw the operation and maintenance of more than 250 buses and 160 other district vehicles.
Previously, Essary served as a vice president at School Bus Services in Gresham, Ore., and as transportation director at North Kansas City (Mo.) School District. He entered the pupil transportation field after serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
Essary was highly regarded in the pupil transportation industry, having served two terms on the NAPT’s board of directors and chairing numerous committees. He also served as president of the association in 1995-96 and received its Distinguished Service Award in 1998. In all, he was an NAPT member for more than two decades.
Essary also contributed greatly to the state pupil transportation associations in Oregon and Missouri, serving as president of each. He also chaired the Missouri delegation to the 1990 National Conference on School Transportation in Warrensburg, Mo., and attended the 1995 and 2000 conferences as a delegate for Oregon.
“Dennis was one of those rare individuals who volunteer their time and energy with gusto and without reservation,” said Hirano. “He also was a great resource for SCHOOL BUS FLEET, serving on our Editorial Advisory Board for several years. In fact, I feel remiss in not recognizing him with the Administrator of the Year award earlier.”
In addition to receiving the Administrator of the Year award, Essary was inducted into the NAPT’s Hall of Fame at the meeting in Salt Lake City.
Although he was especially devoted to the pupil transportation industry, Essary also contributed his time to community projects not associated with yellow buses.
One of his greatest personal achievements was his Christian mentoring of incarcerated youth. He volunteered at a correctional facility for boys 14 to 21. His goal was simple: “Helping them to see that God’s love for them is unconditional and that He has a plan for everyone. Hopefully, helping them to make fewer mistakes than I did.” According to his wife, Pauline, Essary had been interested in becoming a prison chaplain. He also lent his services weekly at a community-based mediation program.