CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A pioneer and mentor to many in the school transportation industry, Paul T. Stewart, 100, passed away on Saturday.
According to Stewart’s obituary, he started his career in pupil transportation as a substitute school bus driver in Morgantown, West Virginia, and soon after, worked his way up to hold director of transportation positions, a leadership position with the National Safety Council in Chicago, and was appointed the assistant director for pupil transportation at the West Virginia State Department of Education.
From 1979 until 1987, Stewart served as the West Virginia state director, and developed local, state, and regional innovative driving training programs and school bus inspection programs that have become models for many systems used throughout the country, according to his obituary.
Stewart also was a past president and founding member of two prominent pupil transportation associations: the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
Bill Loshbough, owner of Execuwest Consultants, worked with Stewart when the two of them were state transportation directors (Loshbough was the state transportation director for New Mexico at the time). Stewart was instrumental in the development of many position papers and what became best practices in the industry, Loshbough told School Bus Fleet.
“He was just a natural leader in that respect,” he said. “He was a very positive person. He got the job done.”
Stewart was also a mentor to many people who were just embarking on their careers in school transportation and are still involved in the industry today, Loshbough noted.
Charlie Hood, executive director of NASDPTS, agreed, and described Stewart as a pioneer for NASDPTS and the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference.
“In areas such as school bus specifications development, school bus inspection, and state regulatory oversight of student transportation safety, Stewart and his fellow Southeastern state directors, like J. Pope Baird in Florida, Ralph Hendricks in South Carolina, and others, laid the foundation for those who succeeded them,” Hood told SBF. “I was lucky to have been the beneficiary of their hard work to establish models for the rest of the nation of what the safety and regulatory roles of our respective state agencies could and should be.”
Stewart was the first inductee in NAPT’s Hall of Fame, and served as president of the association from 1977 to 1978. Joined by his grandsons, Roger and Rodney, he was honored at the 44th NAPT Conference and Trade Show in Kansas City in October as the longest tenured member of the association.
“Paul’s contributions to student transportation continue to make a positive impact nationwide, and it was a privilege to have him with us just a few weeks ago,” said Mike Martin, executive director of NAPT.
Stewart’s obituary and funeral service information are available here.