BLACKFOOT — Delbert Baron figures he has easily driven over a million miles behind the wheel of a school bus in his 38 years of driving bus for Blackfoot School District 55. Because of health problems, Baron has reluctantly handed over the bus keys to settle into retirement with his wife of 57 years, Nettie.
"Bus driving is serious business," said Baron. "There comes a time in life when safety is more important than trying to do the job."
Baron, a native Idahoan raised in the Rigby area, was the first bus driver hired by Frank Miles of Blackfoot's Miles Bus Company in 1974. Reed Miles (Frank's son), the current owner of the bus company, said of Baron, "I wish I had 20 more guys just like him. He was the perfect employee; if you needed him, he'd drop everything to be there."
Baron said he loves kids and truly enjoyed his job driving the school the bus, whether it was driving the daily bus routes or driving students to various activities; however, he admits, driving the bus wasn't always easy.
"I had some moments when I was scared...driving on dangerously slick roads, through snow and wind," he recalled. "The lives of those kids were in my hands."
He went on, "And teachers think they have it bad with 35 kids in a classroom...try driving a bus full of 60, 70, or even 80 kids!"
Driving the school bus was not Baron's only job through the years. A father of six, he also worked as a janitor at Blackfoot High School from 1976-1999. He and his family ran a small grocery store (J & H Market) on Shilling Street from 1974-1983 and owned and operated a handful of local rental units, where he did the plumbing and electrical work.
Baron said he will always be a diehard BHS Bronco fan and enjoys attending the school's local sporting events. In addition to their six children, he and Nettie have 17 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
A retirement party in Baron's honor will be held Monday at 4:30 p.m. at the School District 55 office, 270 E. Bridge St, in Blackfoot.
Baron welcomes all of his family and friends to the celebration.