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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tiger transporter

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gary Mayfield has been transporting the Fort Scott Tigers in the Tiger bus for 10 years. --Rayma Silvers/Herald-Tribune
For more than a decade, local resident Gary Mayfield has been more than just a typical school bus driver to the athletes who have had the pleasure of riding the Tiger bus.

For the last 15 years, Mayfield's warm-hearted demeanor has etched a place in the hearts of many of the students and coaches who frequently rode his bus. Recent news that Mayfield had resigned his position as the school's activity bus driver because of health reasons, left many students and coaches feeling a little down. Although Mayfield has occasionally substituted for other bus drivers who have regular routes, the majority of the time was spent driving students to various school activities.

Asked what they would miss most about having Mayfield as a bus driver, coaches and athletes alike said they would miss the way Mayfield took an active interest in the lives of everyone who boarded his bus.

"(I will miss) his personality, and the way he cared about the kids when he drove the bus," FSHS coach Jeff Armstrong said. "He wasn't just a driver. He cared about the kids. It's more about his relationship with the coaches and the players. That's what will be missed the most."

Fort Scott High School athlete and senior Erica Davis said she has ridden on Mayfield's bus since her freshman year, but hopes Mayfield will still be able to make it out to some of her games.

"I remember him most from softball," Davis said. "He's so caring toward us. He likes staying and watching us play. He cares about us, not just driving the bus. We all look forward to having him drive the bus. Even when we see him outside (when he is not) driving the bus, he knows who you are, and he asks about you ... I hope he'll still come to some of the games."

FSHS athlete Erin Coffman said she, too, will miss Mayfield's caring attitude. However, she said she also will miss his sense of humor.

"I will miss his smile and his jokes," Coffman said. "He likes to kid around a lot. He cares about everybody. I will also miss his cologne. He always smelled so good ... I know I'm going to miss him. I can't believe he's not going to drive us this year."

According to FSHS coaches and athletes, Mayfield was more than just the bus driver. He was a part of the teams.

"He's such a big supporter of all the teams," FSHS coach Jeff DeLaTorre said. "He loves being a part of the programs. He took a lot of pride in his work. He loved being a part of it."

FSHS Principal Bob Beckham said, "He (Mayfield) really became part of the entourage. When we walked into a place, he was part of the package. When we lost, he was just as torn up as the coaches. When we won, he was just as happy."

Agreeing with Beckham, FSHS coach Karen Curran said, "Most of my history with Gary was on softball trips. He celebrated every victory with us. He was part of the team. He was devastated by every defeat just like us. He was a true fan -- a Tiger supporter through and through ... I always appreciate him looking out for my team."

According to Armstrong, Mayfield played a big part in the success of the teams.

"You wouldn't think bus drives would play a part in a team's success, but he's a huge part of ours," Armstrong said. "Average bus drivers don't even know the kids' names. He's a major part of any success. He's contributed to it."

Both Davis and Coffman agreed that Mayfield took great pride in keeping the school bus looking good and running properly.

"He always takes good care of the bus," Coffman said.

Davis added, "He takes pride in the teams and wants us to look good. I think he feels he is doing his part getting us their (to the games) safely by taking care of the bus."

According to DeLaTorre, Mayfield would spend much time planning each athletic trip before game day arrived, making sure to plan the best route for travel. Sometimes Mayfield would suggest an earlier departure time in order to compensate for possible traffic or weather conditions, DeLaTorre said.

Curran added Mayfield was more than just a bus driver, as he took on many different roles.

"He wore a lot of hats," Curran said. "He was a friend, a mentor, a bus driver and a father figure."

It is not only those involved in Fort Scott athletic programs who are saddened by Mayfield's retirement.

Mayfield said he also feels the loss.

"I will miss the kids tremendously," Mayfield said. "Doing this as long as I have, you get acquainted with the kids and the parents. I've never known a better group of people to work with. The high school administration, board office and all the other schools are wonderful.

"A lot of people dread going to work each day. I loved going to work. It was a very enjoyable job, and I'm going to miss it as well as the people."

Mayfield may not be able to drive the school bus any more, but he said he will still be attending as many of the athletic events as he can.

"I still go to the games," he said. "I won't miss very many ball games or activities."

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Even after being out of school for more than 8 years, Gary still will call me by first name and ask how I'm doing. This man has been there for our athletes for many years as a strong supporter. One of my greatest memories from high school was Gary and his wonderful attitude toward others. Thank you Gary for everything you have done for Fort Scott!!!

-- Posted by here_4_the_ride on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 1:45 AM

I have known Gary for a number of years and the students and school officials are not the only ones that Gary has had a impact on. Gary has the personality that just brightens up your day when you come in contact with him and he always takes the time to ask how you have been. Gary and I have shared a few laughs together over the years and I look forward to sharing many more with him in the coming years. Good luck in retirement Gary and Thank You for taking care of our kids and Grandkids. We'll see you at the ball games.

-- Posted by Clete Hall on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 2:49 PM

Gary! You are an example to others. Look forward to seeing you at all the games!

-- Posted by FSCitizen on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 4:10 PM

gary is good people

-- Posted by brandonx1 on Sun, Jan 11, 2009, at 8:46 AM

Gary is a good man with a good heart. He has been a major support to athletes over the years. Win or lose Gary treats every Tiger like a champion.

-- Posted by greenlight on Sun, Jan 11, 2009, at 5:31 PM

I have probably know Gary as long or longer than anyone. You will find few men as good as Gary. He is a genuine man in his actions and words. We tease each other about being twins as we share the same birthday and our parents were friends. Rest well Gary I'll be coming to see you again.

-- Posted by abaker547@kc.rr.com on Tue, Jan 13, 2009, at 11:06 AM

OK, so it's taken me a while to write this comment. I'm only a few years behind.

Gary Mayfield is the greatest man I know. He is funny, caring,and just all around lovable guy. My hero!He has made such a difference in so many lives. I am very fortunate and also very proud to call him Dad.

-- Posted by TLMayfield on Sun, Jan 27, 2013, at 3:26 PM

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