Betty Dupree’s long ride with Polk County Public Schools has finally come to an end.
This week, Dupree dropped off her last passengers, ending a 45-year career as a PCPS bus driver. She is retiring … again.
Dupree was first hired as a bus driver in 1974, working until 2008 before deciding to retire. It didn’t last long. She returned to the driver’s seat in 2010 and kept going until this week.
Friends, colleagues, and other well-wishers invited Dupree to a special presentation today at Auburndale High, where she was given a plaque, gift basket and flowers. Fellow bus drivers parked around the school and blared their horns in salute.
“Her dedication to the students of Polk County for 45 years is simply amazing,” said Rob Davis, PCPS’ assistant superintendent for support services. “They broke the mold after they made her. You rarely see someone so committed and passionate about their job. It’s a bittersweet moment. We wish her all the best, but we will sorely miss her.”
Ianthy Worrell, an area manager with the transportation department, recalled working as a bus driver alongside Dupree in the 1980s.
“Her quality of work never stopped being excellent,” Worrell said. “For decades, she’s served our schools and students so well. There are many things about her that make her a wonderful bus driver; she’s punctual and conscientious. Everyone loves her sweet personality.”
Dupree’s top concern has always been making sure students could count on her for a safe ride, Worrell said.
“One day, she got knocked down by a strong wind while helping students on the bus,” Worrell said. “Another driver took the students to school. While she was getting checked out, Ms. Dupree was more concerned about the kids and wanted to make sure they got to school safely.”