Tribute to Mr. Ralph Bunnell: Debra Filppi Colgrove ’72

Guest Author: Debra Filppi Colgrove ‘72

Growing up in Leroy was wonderful. We were a tight- knit community of caring, loving and warm people. Those days are engraved in my memory; and I find as I age, I daydream often about those lazy, hazy, crazy days of my youth.

Being from Leroy, I always rode the bus to and from school. We lived on Leroy Center Road and from the dinette window of our kitchen, I could see the lights of the bus coming down Indian Point Road. I would gather up my books, walk to the end of our driveway and wait for the familiar yellow bus to pick me up.

Around fourth grade or so, I found I was the first one on the bus and so, the last one off. My bus driver was Mr. Ralph Bunnell, and he saved my life one spring afternoon. As the bus pulled up to our home, I stepped off and crossed in front of it.

As I was about to step away from the safety of the bus, Mr. Bunnell started honking the horn many times. It startled me and I stopped in my tracks. Just then, a convertible with two teenaged boys raced past the bus. No doubt, had Mr. Bunnell not thought so quickly, I would have surely been killed that day.

As days and years slip by, that moment in time has made a deeper impact on me. I tried to locate Mr. Bunnell so I could write him a long overdue note of deep thanks but have learned he passed away many years ago. I pay tribute to him, and to all the wonderful bus drivers we had over our school years who kept us safe driving us to and from school.

My husband and I have two daughters, two wonderful sons (in-law), and seven grandchildren, one of whom is a United States Marine serving our country. It is not lost on me that had it not been for Mr. Bunnell, these things would not have happened.

Editor’s Note: Ralph Bunnell worked in the maintenance department and as a bus driver for the (now) Riverside Local School District from 1965 through 1974. Mr. Bunnell died in 2004. You can read his obituary here.  The photo of Mr. Bunnell is from the 1966 RHS Yearbook.

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