Bus driver makes his last ride

Jack Ellis has driven a school bus for 48 years and logged over 620,000 miles driving routes. He's now retiring.

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May 14, 2021 - 3:16 PM

Jack Ellis is retiring from driving a Humboldt school bus after 48 years and 620,000 route miles. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Jack Ellis has taken his last ride.

Friday afternoon, the 79-year-old climbed out of his bright yellow Humboldt school bus and into retirement.

Ellis has spent an impressive 48 years behind the wheel, and logged over 620,000 miles driving routes.

“I started in 1973,” he said, though added that it didn’t really seem that long ago, or at least didn’t seem like “work.”

“I kind of like it,” Ellis said. “That’s why I’ve stayed as long as I have.”

Jack Ellis ushers students from Humboldt Elementary School onto his bus. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Along with driving buses and serving as USD 258’s transportation director, Ellis simultaneously labored elsewhere.

“I worked at the Santa Fe Railroad for 26 years,” he said, “and I drove a bus while I did that.”

“I worked at Gates for a while, and I still drove a bus.”

He also continued to drive while operating the Corner Post Restaurant in Humboldt with his wife, Marylyn.

Indeed, it seemed a pattern was emerging wherein driving was one of the only constants.

Eventually, though, Ellis was able to stop pulling double-duty and slow down a bit.

“This has been my only job now, for a long time,” he said of delivering students to and from their various palaces of education.

As for what retirement holds, “me and my son have a lot of cattle we take care of, and we’ll hay most of the summer,” Ellis said.

“I don’t plan on sitting down much. There’s always something to do.”

Indeed, it seems Ellis’ even lengthier pursuit beyond busing young scholars is caring for cattle.

“I’ve had cows ever since I’ve been married, and that’s a long time, like 56 years,” he noted.

Perhaps it also seems like a long time given the fact that he and Marylyn have raised six daughters and a son.

The crew includes Sherri Sutcliffe, Shelli Murrow, Soni Wells, Staci Johnson, Sindi Ellis, Shambry Miller and Scott Ellis. (Of note, their middle names all start with the letter “D.”)

Not only were they an inspiration for him to keep hard at work, Ellis’ family also gave him an additional reason to keep driving.

“I like taking trips and stuff, and my kids played sports,” he said, which meant ferrying them and their teammates around the region.

As for what’s changed the most in the past half-century, Ellis said, “mainly the buses. They got more modernized; they’re automatic now. Some have air conditioning.”

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