Richmond Hill’s Bob Kullman spent half a century and some change in the furniture business before he sold the business and started driving a truck hauling “jet fuel and stuff like that.”
That lasted a few years before Kullman retired again to play golf and do some grandkid babysitting at his swimming pool for his daughter, Brandie Williams.
That second retirement didn’t last that long.
“I got bored and Dr. (Allen) Cox talked me into driving a bus,” said Kullman, who is 74. “And wallah, here I am. It got me out of my recliner.”
It also earned Kullman, who started driving for Bryan County Schools in 2015, the 2019-2020 South Bryan Bus Driver of the Year honor. And that’s no small deal.
“One of the good things about this award is it’s voted on by the other drives,” Kullman said. “You don’t just get it handed to you, you have to be voted for. That’s a pretty nice thing to have.”
These days, Kullman, who still plays, drives both a Richmond Hill Middle School and elementary school route.
The younger kids make the most noise, he said, because they don’t have phones yet.
The job “keeps you young, trying to understand what the kids say, because sometimes with computers they have a language all their own. ‘LOL’ and all that kind of stuff,” said Kullman, who said the biggest attribute a potential bus driver can have is patience.
“If you don’t patience you don’t need to be a bus driver,” he said. “No. 2 is having the motor skills to drive a bus and not run over mailboxes and fireplugs and things like that.”
There’s a little bit of paperwork involved and drivers sometimes go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. But Kullman, an advocate for both air conditioning and seat belts on school buses, said the kids are easily the best part of the job.
“You get to see kids, get to see them grow up a little bit, you get to know their parents, it’s just like a big club,” he said.
On a serious note, Kullman said that there’s training involved and if you “sit back and think about it, I’ve got 52 kids on one run and 50 on another, and my responsibility is to get them from point A to point B without any damage. That’s a lot of responsibility.”
He said he gets to know parents and makes a point to talk to the kids he’s charged with getting there and back again.
“I say good morning, good afternoon, and I try to be their friend, and not be somebody they’re afraid of,” said Kullman, who has lived in Richmond Hill for 21 years and watched as the city and South Bryan continues to grow.
“I’ve seen a lot of change,” he said. “If they ever get 144 done, I think it’ll be time for pasture.”
The residential growth in South Bryan means the need for bus drivers is a constant, and Kullman said it’s great for retirees looking for something to do. The pay is good, the benefits are better and it gets you out of the recliner.
“The new schools are going up, we need more drivers,” he said. “If anybody out there like me wants to get out of the recliner, come on and join us.”
Perfect attendance drivers:
Also honored were several drivers who had perfect attendance. The photo slideshow below shows their pictures. Drivers Bob Collins and Margaret Henderson also had perfect attendance, but were not photographed. In addition, one driver asked only to be identified by her first name.