By Cody Dickin
He rolls out of bed at 4:45 in the morning. He does his normal daily routine of brushing his teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. Before he leaves the house. he puts a picture of his five kids and wife in his front pocket over his heart. He then makes his 30-minute drive to his next location. Now, he gets his keys, checks for any notes from parents, looks at the book, uses the restroom, and starts the bus.
This might seem like an early morning to many students, but this is a normal morning for 77-year-old bus driver Walter Wilson.
“I love Walter,” senior Kendra Keesling said. “He is my best friend.”
Wilson says that he started driving buses for Delaware Community Schools in October 1996. Over his years at Delta, he says that he has driven as far as Lafayette and been out driving as late as 11 o’clock at night. He drives a couple of daily routes and frequently drives teams to events after school.
Many students have enjoyed having Walter as a bus driver and even being around him as a person.
Senior athletes Iva Witter and Anna Dennison describe him as dedicated, positive, considerate, and humorous.
“Walter always has amazing hat game,” Witter said. “He is a joy to be around.”
Although many students know and like him as a bus driver, there has been a whole lot more to his life.
He started working at the age of 13 on a farm, where he raised mink. At age 14 he worked 51 hours a week over the summer. He continued working on the farm for two more years helping raise mink and cows.
After leaving Wisconsin for Indiana, he worked many jobs. These include being a grill man and assistant manager at Smack’s Hamburger, working at Mallory Sonalert Products, Inc., and Exide Battery in Frankfort, and preaching at different Wesleyan churches.
While working as a pastor, Walter traveled around Indiana. He was a pastor at Colfax Wesleyan Church, Windfall Pentecostal Church, Franklin Wesleyan Church, Frankfort Wesleyan Church, Knightstown Wesleyan Church, Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan Church, and Muncie Northview Wesleyan Church.
While he was still preaching, he also drove a school bus in Kokomo from 1984 to 1987. Nine years later, he started driving buses here and has continued ever since. Many other bus drivers have come and gone, but Walter has stayed.
“Walter is a genuinely good human being,” said Delaware Community School Corporation Transportation Director Derick Bright. “He cares for students as if they were his own.”
Walter has driven one of the special education buses for the past five years. Some of the students have become more used to Walter having him as a bus driver for multiple years.
“He is crazy and fun to mess with,” said student Breonna Fox. “He calls me Scallywag.”
Although Walter has worked for Delaware Community School Corporation for over 25 years, there might be an end coming soon.
Walter plans to continue driving until he does not pass the required physical test. He thinks that this will be when he is about 80 years old. As he is currently 77, Walter might be finishing his bus driving career in the next few years.