School bus driver who died suddenly ‘made a difference’ in the lives of the students

  • An empty Concord school bus with a driver crashed into a pole at the intersection of Washington Street and North State on Thursday morning, January 9, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • An empty Concord school bus with a driver crashed into a pole at the intersection of Washington Street and North State on Thursday morning, January 9, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 1/10/2020 4:21:28 PM

Gary Jenkins was more than just a driver for the kids who rode his bus, No. 4, to and from school every day.

“He was also a friend, a big brother, a parent, and most of all a warm, smiling man who greeted students every day to and from the schools he served on his route,” Concord’s Interim Superintendent of Schools Frank Bass wrote in a letter to families at Beaver Meadow School, Rundlett Middle School and Concord High. “In short, our students adored him; he’ll be sorely missed by all.”

Jenkins, 68, died Thursday afternoon at Concord Hospital after suffering a medical emergency, suspected to be a heart attack, while he was driving his bus that morning. No students were on board at the time; Jenkins had just dropped students off at Rundlett and was driving his bus back to the transportation yard on North State Street.

Jenkins was driving down Washington Street, toward North State Street when he crashed into a utility pole. Jenkins wasn’t driving very fast and there was little damage to the bus, Bass said.

Jenkins was then transported to Concord Hospital, where he died surrounded by family, Bass said. He said everyone at the district had been sending prayers to the family.

Bass said the news of Jenkins’s passing was devastating to students and those who knew him. The support for him and his family from the community, however, has been inspiring, Bass said.

“I can’t begin to tell you the outpouring of emotion and support that has taken place in these last 24 hours,” he said.

On Friday morning, Concord police’s therapy dog, a golden lab named Liberty, rode on the bus with kids headed to Rundlett. Members of the community bought flowers and offered to make food baskets and host school-sponsored breakfasts for Jenkins’s family. School counselors were put on alert to help and support those children affected by Jenkins’s passing.

“Please keep Gary Jenkins and his family in your thoughts and prayers; we will miss him terribly, for he clearly ‘made a difference’ in the lives of the students on whose behalf he worked,” Bass wrote. 

This was Jenkins’s third year driving buses in the district. 




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