May 5, 2010

On a sad day in Oakland, bus 34 leads the way

Hundreds turn out to remember Rob Miller

By Scott Monroe smonroe@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- Bus 34, with black cloth draped on its front, led the procession of 35 yellow school buses through town.

click image to enlarge

FAREWELL: Penny Alexander and Brian Holt embrace each other as others carry flowers beside the no. 34 school bus that was driven by the late Robin Pullen Miller during her funeral on Tuesday. Her bus was covered with black cloth to mark her passing.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

BUS DRIVER PROCESSION; Thirty-five School Administrative District 47 school bus drivers drove in procession up High Street in Oakland on Tuesday in honor of co-worker Robin Pullen Miller who passed away on May 1.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The final stop was the Eastgate Apostolic Center on Route 137, where more than 400 people turned out Tuesday morning to pay their respects to the woman who used to be behind the wheel of bus 34.

Oakland resident Robin P. Miller, 46, called Rob by family and friends, died Saturday at Maine Medical Center in Portland after complications from a recent surgery, said Lennie Goff, director of transportation for Regional School Unit 18.

Goff drove bus 34 during the funeral procession Tuesday and said about 35 district bus drivers paid homage to one of their own, a woman who cared deeply about the students she drove to and from school each day.

"She will definitely be missed," Goff said.

Fellow driver Larry Farmer called Miller an outstanding bus driver and a sweetheart whose route included streets in downtown Oakland.

"She was my nephews' and nieces' bus driver; the kids loved her dearly," Farmer said.

Miller's bond with the school community was evident at the funeral service -- scores of students and teachers joined bus drivers and other family and friends, lining both sides of Route 137 in parked cars.

Miller, according to an obituary, graduated from Messalonskee High School in 1982 and was a bus driver for the school system for 22 years. She was also a waitress at the Coffee Pot Restaurant in Oakland and Mei Lam Lau in Waterville.

Donald Niles, a pastor and fellow bus driver, delivered a eulogy for Miller and called her "a true friend in every sense of the word" who was a faith-filled and funny woman. She always wanted to help others "no matter what," he said.

It was Miller's embrace of self-sacrifice -- of putting the needs of others before herself -- that should most inspire people to help others and "honor her by paying that forward," Niles said.

Miller was also fond of card-playing and an avid outdoors person who loved camping and snowmobiling, he said.

As a bus driver, she cared for students who rode her bus by cheerfully telling them "good morning" and "good night" at every stop and bringing them "candy canes at Christmas and popsicles at the end of the year." Miller attended graduations, cheered on students at their sporting events and welcomed kids into her home, Niles said.

"She loved driving a bus," Niles said. "Rob was your friend; she was the kind of person you could count on every time -- day or night."

Scott Monroe -- 861-9253

smonroe@centralmaine.com

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