Over his 59-year career in the industry, Jack Parsons was credited with spearheading numerous improvements to pupil transportation and mentoring many men and women in the field.
Parsons, who passed away on Nov. 5 at age 92, went to work for school bus manufacturer Crown Coach Corp. in 1951 as a heavy-duty mechanic. By 1957, he was a foreman for the company. A few years later, he joined the sales department, and he represented Crown Coach until it closed in 1991.
Although he worked on the supplier side of the industry, Parsons was instrumental in the formation of the California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO). He was also known for giving vital advice and encouragement to many school bus drivers, trainers, dispatchers and managers.
After his career with Crown Coach, Parsons joined A-Z Bus Sales as a special project advisor. In that role, he became known as the "Alternative Fuel Guru" because of his ability to route compressed natural gas buses from Georgia to California and because he was a certified engine expert.
When he retired from A-Z Bus Sales in 2010, company officials said that many innovations and changes to school transportation came about because of Parsons' curiosity. These changes included 10-inch brake drums, removal of rear and side door chains in favor of door buzzers, changing the ramp curb specifications on all highways in California, and modifications with school bus mirrors.
Parsons was named a life member of CASTO — the only person to be given that honor without having served as president of the association.
For more information on Parsons' life and career, go to the CASTO website.