Friends and pupils celebrated the life of a Martinez school bus driver in a memorial service Thursday at Martinez Elementary School.
Martinez Elementary School pupil Molly Knight, 10, speaks for herself and her brothers Andy (from left), 13; Jake, 6; and Sam, 4, as she remembers the interest bus driver Michael Munch took in their lives. Munch died recently and the school held a memorial service in his memory on Thursday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Michael Munch, known by some as the "puppy bus" driver whose routes included Spring Lakes subdivision and several other Columbia County neighborhoods for Martinez Elementary, Evans Middle and Evans High schools, died Jan. 8 after a battle with lung cancer. He was 71.
"He had a great impact on life," Molly Knight, 10, a fourth-grader at Martinez Elementary, said in the school's courtyard to more than 20 of Munch's friends. "If your parents weren't at the bus stop when it was your time to get off, he would loop around the neighborhood one more time, until they got there."
In addition to the memorial service, which was organized by several parents because Munch did not have a funeral, a park bench was dedicated in Munch's memory. It will stay on the school grounds. Donations for the bench can be made at Martinez Elementary, where the remaining proceeds will be donated to St. Joseph's Hospice, which was Munch's last wish, said Beth Frits, a Martinez parent and one of the organizers.
As a few laughs and tears were loosed by his close friends, many agreed Munch was a man who went above and beyond the call of duty as a friend.
"He would always come and support the kids (who rode his bus) by attending their games," said Melissa Manely, of Martinez. "He took time with younger people. I didn't realize what a present he was until soccer season began and he wasn't there."
Clark Bourne (left) tells friends and family members gathered at the memorial about how Munch used to take personal interest in the children who rode his bus, even attending their sporting events and keeping up with their wins and losses. Munch died at age 71 after a battle with lung cancer.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Shirley Doolittle, a supervisor for the Columbia County Board of Education Transportation Department, agreed about how much Munch meant to those he met.
"Mike was dependable with his job and children," she said. "He made my job much easier."
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