SANTA FE, N.M. — A few decades ago, when Gilbert Perea was a basketball coach, one of his job duties was to be licensed as a school bus activity driver. Thus began a long, venerable career in the field of pupil transportation.
Now Perea, New Mexico’s state pupil transportation director, is set to retire on June 25 with more than 30 years of experience in the industry.
“As I plan my departure, the time has come for me to say farewell to you and all the many friends that have been part of my journey,” Perea wrote to Charlie Hood, president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.
Being part of the association “has truly been an honor and a very fruitful experience,” Perea wrote.
In turn, Hood wrote that “many of us will miss Gilbert as a colleague and leader in student transportation.”
Perea’s career took him from basketball coach to school bus driver, transportation supervisor, transportation specialist and assistant state transportation director. He then became state director at age 32.
In a 2002 interview for SBF’s “Fascinating Personalities” series, Perea reflected on his proudest achievements, one of which was rising to the state director post.
After that, in 1995, the New Mexico Legislature rewrote the statutes for school transportation. “My main goal was to rebuild the administrative requirements and redesign an oversight responsibility for this department,” Perea said. “The goal was reached within three years.”
Perea said that his outside interests include golf and home remodeling and construction.
He also admitted to being “a biker tramp from way back.” His motorcycle of choice? “Harleys, of course.”