School bus safety advocate Dr. Cal LeMon passed away on December 28, 2022 at the age of 77 in Springfield, Missouri.
In his 1998 book, "Unreported Miracles: What You Probably Do Not Know About Your Child's School Bus," LeMon recounted how he began his advocacy campaign for the big yellow school bus. Following a keynote address LeMon delivered at one of its events, the California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO) asked LeMon to design and implement a public awareness program throughout California about the safe and smart choice to put children on yellow school buses.
At the time, the state was putting money it had previously allocated for pupil transportation toward other things, leading districts to make changes to their transportation offerings. In one case, LeMon noted, students were encouraged to take public transit buses. In another district, walking distances for districts were extended to five miles.
LeMon called his book, "a call to make a safe and smart choice for the safety of all children." That is – taking the big yellow school bus. LeMon was the keynote speaker at seven CASTO conferences throughout his career, the last one being the organization's 50th anniversary celebration in 2018.
CASTO's new president, Michael Sawyer, released a statement on LeMon's passing, saying, "Dr. Cal LeMon was a great man who loved the school bus industry. The California Association of School Transportation Officials is saddened by the loss of this great man but proud to have known Cal and for the dedication he possessed for our industry."
LeMon owned a training and consulting firm, Executive Enrichment Inc. Following his book release, he remained a friend to the pupil transportation industry.
LeMon spoke in a video published by Operation Lifesaver called "Decide Smart, Arrive Safe.” The video instructed school bus drivers on ways to safely cross railroad tracks, but it also addressed drivers on safe practices and behaviors. You can watch the video below.
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) President Mike Simmons released a statement on LeMon's death, saying, “Cal was always a forward thinker. He wrote a paper on lap shoulder belts on school buses in the early 2000s that foreshadowed the NASDPTS position paper on the subject. He was a very dynamic speaker and a motivator for our industry. It is with great sadness and respect that we mourn his passing.”
National School Transportation Association (NSTA) Executive Director Curt Macysyn also released a statement on LeMon's death. "Dr. LeMon was a tireless advocate for many years, on behalf of student transportation, and he did so by serving in many diverse roles. He set the groundwork for many advocacy pupil transportation initiatives, and his lasting legacy will be the eloquent manner in which he spoke on behalf of the yellow bus.”
One of LeMon's grandchildren read a statement at his funeral.
"My Papa Cal filled our lives very full with love and experiences. Some of these include vacations, church, and dinners. Our memories of Papa on our vacations were anything but boring...Papa helped create our great foundation of our faith from preaching in church, to enrolling us in about everything he possibly could through First and Calvary...Papa helped shape me into the person and young man I am today...We miss Papa very much, but we know he's always with us and always will be."
LeMon also served as chaplain at Harvard University, and pastored churches in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Springfield, Missouri, according to his obituary.
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