Middletown bus number retired after longtime driver dies

2:55 p.m Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 Middletown
Submitted photo
Janell Burns’ No. 15 bus was part of her funeral procession last week. That bus number has been retired in honor of her 48 years of service.

No one will drive Middletown City Schools bus No. 15 again.

That number was retired and changed to No. 21 after Wanda “Janell” Burns, who drove a Middletown school bus for 48 years, died on Sept. 4 at her home. She was 79.

School employees remembered Burns by driving her bus last week during her funeral procession from Breitenbach Anderson Funeral Home to Woodside Cemetery, said Mindy Hahn, bus dispatcher for the district.

Hahn said since Burns’ death, there has been a void in the bus garage. Burns was always the first to arrive to work and she made coffee for all her co-workers, Hahn said.

“There is a gap; something is missing,” Hahn said. “It’s just different around here.”

Burns was responsible for picking up many of the students with disabilities in the district, Hahn said. She was loved by the students, Hahn said.


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Pastor Lamar Ferrell, preacher at Berachah Church where Burns attended and was baptized, met Burns because his daughter, Elley, who was born with Spina Bifida rode on Burns’ bus.

He called her “an incredible, incredible woman.”

The last time they talked, they were standing in the Walgreens parking lot and they prayed. She told Ferrell she was regretting retirement.

“You could see in her eyes she didn’t want to,” he said.

Ferrell said it was fitting that Burns died before she had to turn in her retirement papers.

Burns drove a bright red Corvette and Hahn referred to her as “a red hot momma. You couldn’t help but love her.”

She is survived by one sister, two daughters, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bobby Burns son Jerry Burns and sister Lucille Bolender.