|Judy LaGrandeur cuts her celebratory retirement cake|
C. Davis photos
Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice
Judy LaGrandeur is retiring after serving the busing needs of the Pincher Creek area since 1970. She started driving school buses in 1972, and was made the lead driver circa 1994. She eventually became the Location Manager for First Student/Cardinal, but considers herself a bus driver first and foremost. In her time she has seen major changes in ownership, and has driven most of the children in the Pincher Creek area, including the parents and grandparents of many of the children being bused today.
|Albert and Judy LaGrandeur with Stan Weber|
|Members of the First Student Pincher Creek team|
After that, the event turned into a bit of a roast, with Martin Karabacz, Dan Crawford, and Tom McNabb all taking turns reminiscing about some of the fun times they'd had working with and for Judy.
Afterwards I chatted with Judy LaGrandeur and Sharon Roberts.
"They aren't kidding when they say she knows every student," said Sharon Roberts. "We were out doing routes in August," said Roberts. "So we're driving along and she's going 'Oh yeah, this is so-and-so... oh but they don't live there anymore, that's so-and-so but they live over there now...'. Honestly, she seems to know every child, their parents, their grandparents, where they were born, where they now live, and where their relatives live." Roberts herself drove school bus in St. Albert and had 12 years experience driving public transit buses in Edmonton before moving to Pincher Creek.
|Cake by Co-op|
Under Judy's administration the retention of drivers has been remarkably good, in an industry known for its high turn-over rates. "This has to be one of the few locations that has so many long-standing drivers," Roberts said. "I think the standing joke around Pincher Creek is you won't get a school run until somebody either retires or dies."
What made it such a great experience for Judy? "My favourite thing driving bus is the kids, that one's easy to answer. The kids and the people you meet. The kids are the best. They keep you young, they really do."
"Right now I'm driving grandchildren of kids that started with me."
Judy was born in Blairmore, moved to Pincher Creek when she was 8 years old, "And I haven't moved since." In addition to driving occasionally Judy is working a part-time job, and "Keeping busy".
|First Student service award recipients|
First Student Canada (Pincher Creek) 2012 Service Awards:
Judith Green: 5 years
Jocelyn Elliott: 5 years
Wayne Camber: 5 years
Vicki Hewison: 5 years
Kathy Welsch: 10 years
Phyllis Abramenko: 15 years
Monica Burles: 15 years
Pattie Degan: 15 years
Coralie Karabacz: 15 years
Dianne Lepard: 15 years
Kathy Spencer: 15 years
Doug Smith: 20 years
Laurel Holte: 25 years
Martin Karabacz: 35 years
|Vicki Hewison - 5 years|
|Pattie Degan (left) - 15 years|
|Kathy Spencer - 15 years|
|Phyllis Abramenko (left) - 15 years|
|Coralie Karabacz (right) - 15 years|
|Dianne Lepard (left) - 15 years|
|Monica Burles (left) - 15 years|
|Laurel Holte (left) - 25 years|
|Martin Karabacz (left) - 35 years|