top of page

Russ Adams

Riding With Mr. Russ


“We’re the first ones they see every morning. I want them to have a good day.”

Bus driver Russ Adams tells quite the Waverly story. While born in Chicago, he shares that his family moved to Waverly in 1964 to be closer to his mom’s side of the family. At the time, Russ was thirteen, and he arrived the summer between his eighth grade and freshman year, starting high school at Waverly.

Since then, he’s founded two businesses—Adams Heating & Air and Adams Hardware—both in Waverly. While Russ owned and operated both for forty-two years, he eventually sold one of the businesses. He liquidated the other to take a stab at retirement. Russ grins as he reflects, sharing countless examples of how times have changed, for better and worse, since he attended high school and owned and operated what he describes as an old-school hardware store.

Russ laughs and shares that he eventually found it easier to accept part-time employment as a school bus driver than continuing to reject the repeated offers. “I’m an early riser. A previous superintendent said, ‘Hey, why don’t you drive a bus?’” shares Russ. “I told him, ‘Look, I will drive a bus, but on one condition: I’ll only drive in the mornings.’”

Enjoying a slower pace of retirement and time around the house, Russ confesses that he didn’t want to spend his whole day driving. He also didn’t anticipate the superintendent calling his bluff by meeting his morning-only demand. Russ shakes his head and says the superintendent “finally relented and said yeah, we’ll do that; you can just drive a morning route.”

Although he occasionally fills in on an afternoon route, he teases that he doesn’t have what it takes to be an afternoon bus driver. The kids are too wound up at the end of their day, suggests Russ before confessing he’s learned to love his morning drives.

“I enjoy it. I really do. I like kids. We’re the first ones they see every morning. I give them candy. I want them to have a good day. I get a kick out of them. They get off the bus and beat my hand to death with high fives. It really is great. They have a big day ahead of them. So, I sugar them up and send them to the teachers.”

From having something to do to pass the time to putting a bit of spending money in his pocket, Russ admits that driving a bus is a perfect job for the right person, especially someone older and semi-retired. At seventeen bucks an hour, Russ shares that it helps finance his hunting and fishing trips, including a recent trip to Oklahoma for a hog hunt he might not have taken without his ‘mad money.’

“Why wouldn’t you drive a bus?” ponders Russ as we wrap up our conversation. He suggests that it fills some time, keeps him active, and allows him to stay in touch with the kids.

“A lot of the kids call me Mr. Russ, which I get a kick out of. A lot of times, I’ll be somewhere, and I’ll see two or three of the kids, and they’ll run up and give me a hug. They’ll introduce me to their parents,” says Russ with a prideful smile.

Driving a bus, even if it’s just in the mornings, allows Russ to remain an active member of the community as he meets Waverly’s future, wherever they are, every morning.

bottom of page