Retiring bus driver gets heartfelt sendoff after 40 years on the job

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Folks all over Raleigh are celebrating a beloved local bus driver.

Ron Wilson has been driving for GoRaleigh for 40 years. On Thursday, he retired.

"Please no eating, drinking or smoking on the bus," the speakers blared as Wilson took off.

"I really like it. To me it's fun," Wilson said.

Since 1977 he's seen a lot through the windshield of a bus, like a young man who would literally roll out a red carpet for his sweetheart.

"He had a tray of glasses of champagne so that when she got off of the bus, he would hand her a glass of champagne," Wilson recounted.

The business is a family affair.

"My brother drove the bus here, my uncle drove the bus here, and three or four of my cousins."

"I've been riding GoRaleigh bus for 20 years and this is a nice driver," his passenger, Michael Lashley said.

"I love you," a family friend said, hugging him as she boarded the bus for his final drive. "On your last time, I couldn't miss this."

"I'm telling you I can't believe it," Wilson responded.

His wife gave him a kiss as she hopped aboard.

"I couldn't believe it," he said.

"Oh he's going to start crying," someone said from the back.

Ron and Carolyn Wilson on their wedding day.

It's all been a part his love story, too.

"I rode the trolley every day at lunch," his wife, Carolyn Wilson, said. "He took me to Belks, dropped me off. Then he came back and picked me up."

Ron even rented a Raleigh trolley to pick up guests on their wedding day and take them to church - and while Thursday was Wilson's final drive, after 40 years, he doesn't have any plans to stop riding the bus anytime soon.

"I told my wife we're going to be riding the bus to go different places," Wilson said, showing off a seniors bus pass. "And she wasn't too excited about that, but she got her one too."
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