'School Bus Casket' Honors A Cherished Minnesota Bus Driver

GRAND MEADOW, MN — Glen Davis, who described ferrying kids to and from school in Grand Meadow as one of the greatest joys of his life, will be buried Friday in a casket that looks a lot like the big yellow school bus he drove for 55 of his 88 years.

The idea of sending Davis off in a “school bus casket” started out as something of a joke in 2015. His son-in-law Steve Durst owned a graphic arts business at the time and had seen a school bus casket in a design magazine.

How about it, Durst asked “Glennie,” as the beloved school bus driver was known.

Dawn Durst, Davis’ daughter, told the Rochester Post Bulletin the idea of a school bus casket “never left his mind.”

What he didn’t know was that his friend, funeral director Jim Hindt, was working to make it happen. He arranged for a friend to paint the casket in school bus yellow and add black lettering that reads, “Grand Meadow Schools — ISD #495.” A stop arm, lights and the Blue Bird bus emblem are also included in the design.

“No. 3” was also painted on the coffin, denoting the first bus Davis ever drove for Grand Meadow Schools in southern Minnesota.

“Glen had always just joked with me about wanting to be buried in a casket that looked like a school bus,” Hindt told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We just kind of put it together out of friendship for him. I wasn’t sure whether Glen really wanted to use it.”

When he saw the casket, he was “speechless,” his daughter Lisa Hodge, who lives in Rochester, told the Star Tribune. “He was just overjoyed, and he couldn’t believe somebody was actually able to do it for him.”

Hindt told the Rochester Post Bulletin that he wanted to repay his buddy for the kindness and comfort he offered when Hindt’s daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with cancer when she was a toddler.

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Davis started driving the school bus in 1949, the same year he graduated from high school, the Brainerd Dispatch reported. A lifelong farmer, he milked his cows in the morning after finishing his route.

When he retired in 2005, many of the kids he delivered to and from school were the grandchildren of some of his original passengers. He never had an accident, a record that made him proud, his daughter Lisa Hodge told the Star Tribune.

“Everybody loved him,” Hodge said. “He was a big supporter of the school and the football team.”

Davis died Saturday. A funeral Mass is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Finbarr Catholic Church in Grand Meadow.

Hodge told the Rochester Post Bulletin that though the funeral will be a sad affair for the family and friends who loved Davis, the site of the yellow school bus coffin will undboutbedly lighten the mood.

“He really got a kick out of it,” Hodge said. “It’s what he loved about life.”

Davis was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, in 1996. In addition to his daughters Dawn Durst and Lisa Hodge, he is survived by two sons, Jay and Wade; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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