Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2019

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Former Andalusia City School’s bus driver Steve Dyess’ family and friends want him to be remembered for the kind, caring individual he was.

Dyess worked for the Andalusia City School system for 33 years before retiring in July.

Superintendent Ted Watson worked with Dyess for 30 years before his retirement.

“He was always a very friendly, caring individual,” Watson said. “He did the best that he could doing whatever he did. Everybody knew Steve. Steve was Steve. They knew how he would cutup and would never say anything mean. He just got along with everybody. He was there from the beginning of my time at Andalusia.”

ACS transportation director Kim Thompson said he was amazing to work with.

“He was just always a jokester,” Thompson said. “He always had something going with somebody. He was always fun to be around and he was very dependable. With him working 33 years with us, think of the number of children’s lives he had touched. It truly is amazing. He really loved to drive the bus because he loved the children. The children and parents had a really great relationship with Steve.”

Andalusia local Blaine Wilson grew up with Dyess and said he was lucky to have a connection with Dyess beyond school.

“I’ve known him since I was a kid,” Wilson said. “My dad owned an auto parts store in Andalusia for many years and Steve was a student at Andalusia and had a co-op type job with my dad. Since I grew up in the store, Steve was really a fixture.”

Wilson found out later in his life that Dyess was actually a distant cousin.

“He is a distant cousin to us by way of Elba and the Brunson family,” Wilson said. “We have just always treated him and his family as family. Not a season goes by that I wasn’t out hunting or fishing with Steve.”

The memories between the two are countless, but Wilson said he remembers several stories of the times hunting and fishing with Dyess.

“There are many of good memories going to Suggs catfish pond out in the Oakey Streak community,” Wilson said. “We hunted up in the Loango community, Gantt and the Barnes Bridge area. There are so many stories that are just incredible.”

Wilson said Dyess made everyone feel like they were his best friends.

“He made everyone feel like he liked them the most,” Wilson said. “No matter where they put him at the high school, whether it was cutting grass, being a custodian or driving buses, he never complained. He always had a smile on his face. I think this is an interesting fact, back in the day when Steve cut grass for the school system, he would cut every single school campus’ grass all by himself and he never complained.”

The love that he showed the children is something Wilson hopes people never forget.

“He just loved making children smile,” Wilson said. “Steve would always have chewing gum in a plastic bag and if the children were good on his bus, they would get a reward.”

Another quality trait of Dyess’ that Wilson said was that he was always in church on Sundays.

“He was going to be at First Baptist Church on Sunday,” Wilson said. “He was going to be at the front entrance to the church, sitting in a pew, and just above him would be a speaker where he could hear the sermon and the singing. He sat there on purpose, because he wanted to make sure that if anyone would come in there and do harm, he would protect everyone. He was a protector. He was a very gentle, kind giant. I would say he is Andalusia’s own Forrest Gump.”