Rewel A. "Buster" Bynum, who served as a school transportation director for more than 40 years, acted as treasurer for the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference (SESPTC), and was a member of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Hall of Fame, passed away on Nov. 16. He was 92.
School Transportation Leadership in Virginia
Bynum was born in 1931 on his family's Virginia farm to the late Romie Lee and Natilee Hodge Bynum. He attended Chase City High School, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University. He served in the U.S. Army 47th Infantry Division as a Sgt. First Class.
He worked in pupil transportation on the local and state government levels for more than 40 years. His involvement in the SESPTC led to the creation of an annual scholarship in his name that's awarded to students in the association's 14 member states.
Bynum's Impact on NAPT and Beyond
Bynum was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame in 1999, when it was noted that he "was instrumental in securing funding an political support for the infant NAPT."
According to the NAPT website, when the Rural Education Division of the National Education Association (NEA) stopped providing financial assistance, Bynum "encouraged a variety of sponsors, including the State Directors Association, to join forces and move forward with a plan to strengthen the industry and its various constituencies."
Dr. Molly McGee-Hewitt, executive director of NAPT, expressed thanks for the devotion Bynum showed toward the industry during his lifetime.
"NAPT and the NAPT Foundation boards are saddened to hear of the passing of Buster Bynum," McGee-Hewitt said. "In addition to his work in the southeast, he was an ardent supporter and leader in the creation and funding of NAPT. He was an industry icon and will be missed. We are grateful that he was and will remain a permanent member of the NAPT Hall of Fame. Our hearts go out to his family. We are forever grateful for his leadership, support, and passion for our profession and our industry. He will be missed."
Ken Hedgecock, formerly of Thomas Built Buses, remembered a four-hour dinner with Bynum - then state director for Virginia - and Morris Adams, then vice president of corporate affairs for Thomas.
"It was a long dinner, as both Buster and Morris could talk about school buses for a long time," Hedgecock told School Bus Fleet. "But I may have learned more about school buses and pupil transportation in those four hours than in the entirety of my 36-year career. Buster was a true champion of pupil transportation and very much contributed to the stellar safety record we enjoy. Rest easy and well, Buster!"
Derek Graham, former state director of transportation for North Carolina, described Bynum as "a mainstay of the Southeastern States Conference."
"His dedication to the organization and its people was truly admirable," Graham said.
Bynum was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Ruth Johnson Bynum; his brother, Charles Bynum; and his sister, Kathryn Reese. He's survived by two sons, Stephen and Ryan; three grandsons; and a blue pitbull named Sophie. A memorial service is planned in Richmond on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The family has asked that contributions be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or other worthy charities.