GERMANTOWN, Wis. — Longtime school bus contractor Roland “Rollie” Bast passed away on Feb. 5 at age 91.
Bast founded Riteway Bus/GO Riteway Transportation Group in 1957, and he was regarded for his dedication to his employees and customers.
Roland Bast, founder of Riteway Bus, poses next to one of the company’s first four school buses in 1957.
The company celebrates its 55th anniversary this year. Bast launched it with four school buses — 40-passenger Superiors on Chevrolet chassis that cost about $5,000 each.
Riteway now operates out of nine locations in Wisconsin with a fleet that, in addition to school buses, includes motorcoaches, shuttle coaches, limo coaches, limousines, executive sedans and vans.
Bast was born in Germantown on April 21, 1920, the son of Valentine and Louisa Bast. He married Pearl, the love of his life, in 1942, and they had two children, Ronald and Rochelle.
Bast was a lifelong farmer and a horse enthusiast, raising and showing draft horses as a hobby for many years. In addition to farming, he was a well-known auctioneer.
In an obituary distributed by GO Riteway Transportation Group, Bast was described as “a proud and patriotic American who was dedicated to family and community.”
He served as a 4-H leader, volunteered as a square dance caller and had perfect attendance at Germantown Rotary Club for 40 years. He volunteered for the Germantown Fire Department from 1948 to 1998 and served as its president for many years. He also served on various boards and supported many charitable organizations.
In 1999, he was named Germantown Citizen of the Year.
Bast was a devoted grandfather of two and great-grandfather of three.
“Rollie's greatest joy was spending time with family and friends,” according to his obituary. “He was a joyful man with a positive outlook and an infectious laugh.”