After a 76-year-old bus driver passed away this month, his family found a special way to honor their father’s more than 50 years of dedication to his work.
David Wright, of Lebanon, Tennessee, had driven one of the local school buses in Wilson County from 1967 until 2018, when he retired for health reasons.
The community icon died on August 13, leaving behind children, grandchildren and dozens of families whose lives he had impacted across the generations during his career as a driver.
“Since he passed I’ve met multi-generations of families he drove. He’s affected people’s lives along the way,” Wright’s son, Calvin Wright, told The Tennessean.
Because Wright was so often recognized in his bus, a place where he seemed most at home, his family wanted to do something unique to honor the father and grandfather’s time spent serving students over the years.
They decided to reach out to Saddler Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Lebanon, which then contacted Nashville Casket Sales, a company that designs custom caskets.
Calvin Wright, with the help of his son and daughter, asked if the company could recreate his father’s beloved bus, complete with his number and a photograph of Wright.
“Driving that long, he loved that bus,” Calvin Wright said. “He always took care of it. He was always in the yard washing it and always kept it clean.”
The company readily agreed to the design, and the casket look-alike soon stirred reactions after photos surfaced online. Truly unique, the yellow bus masterpiece represents a little piece of who Wright was.
“It’s literally went viral all over the nation,” Calvin Wright said to The Tennessean. “Words can’t describe it. It’s an honor really.”
“I didn’t know Mr. Wright personally,” said Joe Stacey, one of the owners of the casket company. “When we posted (pictures online) we didn’t expect it to go as viral as it did. It went far above any casket we’ve done as far as reaction and social media posts and shares. Especially for a local gentleman and that is awesome. A lot of people loved him.”
Joe and Tabitha Stacey told The Western Journal the company was “honored to have made a custom casket for Mr. Wright’s celebration of life.”
“Through the outpouring of comments and memories [we] realize he will be missed by many.”
Wright’s story calls to mind the impact a single person can have on a community, simply through hard work and kindness.
While the casket it undoubtedly impressive and thoughtful, it is Wright’s legacy that has truly warmed hearts. Adding to his many accomplishments, Wright was inducted into the Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation’s Hall of Fame.
Wright was also a longtime reserve officer for the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and Lebanon Police Department and worked for Middle Tennessee Electric for 36 years.
“Mr. Wright was a selfless leader his entire life by being the example we should all strive to be,” the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office told WZTV. “He never wanted or asked for anything in return for his service to the community which made him a special servant.”
“He left a legacy at three different places he worked,” Calvin Wright said. “He was dependable. He was available on short notice. And knew [students] would get there safe.”
The community legend’s continued influence on the lives of those around him has been highlighted by the school district, too. According to WZTV, the transportation department for Wilson County Schools is now named after David Wright.
The Western Journal reached out to Nashville Casket Sales, but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.
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