Terry Wilson has spent the last 33 years making sure students in Elizabeth school district had safe transportation to and from school.
As the district’s transportation manager, Wilson would often hit the road as early as 1 a.m. on snowy days, to drive routes around Elizabeth and assess the extent of the snow, and whether or not it was safe for bus drivers to make their morning route.
He would then coordinate with local local snow removal efforts, before meeting with school district officials to determine if the district would cancel school for a snow day.
“We always had the safety of the students in mind first,” said Wilson. “We have some incredible drivers who get the students to school and back home again, especially in extreme weather conditions.”
Wilson, who lives in Elizabeth and considers himself a religious man, started with the district in 1987. He was working at the Douglas County School District, and wasn’t looking for a change in jobs. But, he said, God had a different plan for him.
“I had a strong feeling that God needed me over in Elizabeth for a little while,” said Wilson. “I didn’t really want to go, I was happy where I was. But I went ahead and honored the call to change jobs, and apparently I’ve been needed here for the past 33 years.”
In addition to his early morning snow adventures, Wilson was also responsible for maintenance of all of the school district’s buses, approximately 33 of them, as well as county fleet cars. He managed budgets for the department, as well as helping the district update, install and maintain two-way communication systems, and insuring the district repeaters were maintained and met FCC guidelines and regulations.
Wilson was raised in Douglas County and Elizabeth, fixing engines of all types, as well as learning the skills of welding, fabrication and construction as a young man. His upbringing helped him excel in the position of transportation manager.
“I grew up in a home where we worked on cars, fixed them up and I was doing diesel engine repairs as a kid,” said Wilson. “We were always encouraged to find solutions to problems, and I learned never to give up if I wanted to do something.
“My job did require a lot of office work, but whenever my mechanics got behind the eight ball I would put on my work clothes and get under the hood.”
Wilson and his crew also helped evacuate several hundred people during the Black Forest Fire of 2013, filling school buses with people and driving them out of the path of the fire.
“For me it was always about being a part of the community, and the commitment of making sure kids got an education and every opportunity they could,” said Wilson. “The district has always been supportive, and they have a great staff that is dedicated to the students.”
Wilson has been married to his wife Susan for 43 years, and is active in his church. He plans to spend more time with his elderly parents and make sure they have the care they need.
“Terry Wilson has made an immeasurable contribution to Elizabeth Schools and the community in his 33 years of service to the families and staff of the school district,” said Elizabeth Schools Superintendent Douglas Bissonette. “Terry was incredibly hard-working, dedicated, knowledgeable and above all, caring. He built and led one of the most effective school transportation operations in the state. Terry embodies the heart and soul of the school district and never hesitated from taking on responsibility, learning something new, solving a problem, helping others out, or finding a better way to do things. He is about a close as it gets to being irreplaceable. We will miss him and wish him, and his wife Susan, a hard-earned and well-deserved retirement from the district.”