‘Mr. Butch is loved’: Hanover community surprises bus driver who is retiring

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 9:22 PM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - It is the end of a glorious chapter for a beloved Hanover County bus driver who is retiring after more than a decade on the job. On Monday, the Ash Creek community made sure his last day was one to remember.

When Alan Stults, also known as “Mr. Butch,” turned the corner on a street that knows him well, he never expected the surprise waiting at the end of it.

Smiles and cheer from parents, students and other members of the community were proudly holding signs, reminding Mr. Butch just how much he means to them.

“You guys are amazing,” said Mr. Butch. ”This is so humbling.”

When Mr. Butch retired as a Richmond firefighter, he continued his service to the community as a bus driver for Hanover County students. That journey began in 2008 and it has been one for the books.

Mr. Butch has gone above and beyond for the students who he takes pride in getting to and from school safely. What makes his encounters even more special? The fact that he knows everyone by name. He has even built a bond with the parents too.

“We just know when they [kids] get on the bus, he loves them,” said Kelly Johnakin, a parent who helped organize the sendoff. “He greets my husband too.”

Johnakin recalls a time when her daughter got sick and missed school for a week. She said Mr. Butch knocked on the door that week to check on her. It is that kind of empathy and love for the job and students that families will truly miss.

“You can tell Mr. Butch is loved because there’s even seniors here who had him,” said Johnakin, while pointing across the street at the older kids. “To get up this early in the morning for a senior is a big deal.”

Students say Mr. Butch will always be remembered for his kindness and this one rule, “girls get on first.”

“He always greets us with a nice ‘hello,’” said one student.

“He’s the kindest, most generous bus driver,” Johnakin said.

“This is unreal,” Mr. Butch said. “I’m blown away by all of this.”

Mr. Butch is now packing up and headed to Florida for retirement.

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