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Longtime bus driver decides to retire after 29 years

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Floyd Flasher, 81, sitting at the wheel of his school bus outside of Warren Area Elementary Center on Tuesday, retired from driving the bus, dropped it off, and turned in the keys after 29 years.

On Tuesday, a longtime Warren area school bus driver parked his bus for the last time and turned in the keys.

For 29 years, Floyd Flasher, 81, of Chandlers Valley, transported special needs students wherever they needed to go. He retired after his afternoon run on Tuesday.

“I didn’t take this job for the money,” Flasher said.

The job didn’t pay that well and “it’s a lot of responsibility,” he said.

It was something he could do to keep busy.

Floyd Flasher, 81, standing with his school bus outside of Warren Area Elementary Center on Tuesday, retired from driving the bus, dropped it off, and turned in the keys after 29 years. Photo by Brian Ferry

“I never had any trouble driving,” Flasher said. “Never had any trouble seeing.”

And he found it fulfilling.

“I enjoy working with special kids,” he said. “I’ve raised a couple.”

Not every driver is up to transporting special needs students, he said. “It’s a little harder to get them to listen, but once you get them to do that, they’re pretty good,” he said.

His first 10 years behind the wheel involved driving a Specialty Transit van to Erie every day. Then, he shifted to Warren Bus Lines with new ownership. Until Wednesday, he estimated he spent four hours a day in the bus — No. B49 — going about 22 miles in the morning and a little more in the afternoon.

Keeping busy was never a problem.

“One thing I always had was ambition,” he said.

Flasher worked at United Refinery for 20 years. He missed a day during that time — he didn’t tell his doctor he only missed one day.

He also missed one day as a bus driver. “I had to for an operation,” he said.

Through a complete hip replacement, a life-long plugged artery, and prostate cancer, Flasher kept working. “I’ve been in pretty good shape,” he said. “I was never one to miss work.”

His work ethic and attitude are well-known.

“I have had the privilege to know Floyd Flasher for the last 11 years,” Warren County School District Transportation Manager Mike Kiehl said. “Floyd has been a dependable driver and comes to work with a great attitude. He will certainly be missed.”

There is mutual admiration. “Mike Kiehl is one of the finest guys I’ve ever run into,” Flasher said.

Flasher was up for bus recertification — that would have enabled him to work for four more years. He decided that 81 was an appropriate retirement age and didn’t go through the recertification process.

He said he enjoyed the work, but didn’t want to drive himself to the grave yard.

“I’ve done enough,” he said.

In his retirement, Flasher hopes to transport a special needs student to Erie every day for the next year or so — but in a private vehicle rather than a school bus.

And, “I’m still going to work on my house. I’m still going to run my oil lease,” he said. “I just feel better when I get up early. Floyd’s not going to just sit in the chair.”

“My idea of retirement is keeping busy,” Flasher said. “That’s how you stay in shape. You’ll live longer.”

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