SHERIDAN — Harvey Purcella enjoys almost all aspects of his job as a bus driver for Sheridan County School District 2.
One thing that sticks out that he doesn't particularly love?
Starting the bus in below-zero temperatures. Other than that, he’s loved his job — a job that “chose him” — for 37 years.
"I didn't choose this job, it chose me." Purcella said during a SCSD2 board meeting where, on the agenda, board trustees and staff took time to honor the longtime district employee. "I'm glad it did, because I've had a lot of fun."
Purcella started working for the district as a bus driver in 1984 and has since learned the name of every student on his bus route over the years. Statewide trainings he participated in helps him more positively interact with students, and some statewide transportation competitions earned him additional recognition over the years.
"One of the outstanding traits Harvey possesses is that he knows each student, greets each student by name, and has done that for the past 37 years," SCSD2 Transportation Director Shawn Stevens said, mentioning he's hauling some of the third generation of students on his bus. "Which, I thought, was just absolutely amazing."
Purcella managed to hold back tears when sharing stories of his time and stopping himself before taking too much board meeting time with 37 years worth of bus driving stories.
"Way back when I first started driving, I was the only person cheering for the seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade girls in the events in Gillette, which is a challenge in itself," Anderson said. "I could talk and tell a lot of stories, but I know you people sign my check, but I work for those children. And they're your children. Thank you for the good years."
Coworker Shelley Anderson lauded Purcella for his expertise, willingness to take new hires under his direction and agree to disagree with Anderson.
"On top of everything else he's done, he's a mechanic because he knows the buses, he can tell you through it," Anderson said. "He has taken new hires under his wing. We've argued; we've made up; we've laughed; we've done winter trips — I've probably survived some of those winter trips because of Harvey — ...and I just want you to know that everyone out there loves you."
Trustee and Board President Sue Wilson has known Purcella since before his time as a bus driver and mentioned his good character doesn't stop when he takes the keys out of the ignition. It's all the time.
"Not only has he been a good bus driver, he's a very good man, so thank you for the person you are," Wilson said.
Purcella will continue his drive along Route No. 1 and, if persuaded, maybe an activity trip or two.