Devotion to service, community

To the editor:

Jeff Paulson passed away not with a big house or bank account but rather a big heart as evidenced by the huge outpouring of support from family and friends from around the country. I’m uncomfortable in writing this but feel inspired enough to share something that I learned from his memorial service that may be of benefit for each of us.

Jeff was well loved. This I knew. After his post office career, Jeff became a bus driver for Manson-NW Webster. His impact was virtually unknown by his family until this past Saturday when school personnel made it quite clear that Jeff, for 10 plus years, was easily the most requested bus driver for the athletic teams on their away games.

Why is that? Coaches and players all loved him because he would provide pep talks before each competition, take stats, cheer for the team, shake each player’s hand when boarding the bus after a competition (win or lose), and even show up for games for which he did not drive. He essentially became the school’s unofficial biggest fan. And, in doing so, became the athletes’ good luck charm. Victories often included thanking their bus driver for his undying support.

Token representatives of these teams did not show up for his service. Instead, entire teams did (football, volleyball, wrestling, and so on) as well as their parents, coaches, and administrators. They wanted to make a big statement and they did. Arriving by carpool they mobilized entirely by word of mouth since school was not in session. We were touched to say the least. The school’s football home opener included a half-staff flag in Jeff’s honor and the wrestling team, as I understand, will be placing a plaque in his memory for their practice room.

I did see a glimpse of his commitment a few years ago at a district wrestling meet in Ft. Dodge. I came to see my old high school’s participation and Jeff would be there and refer to the Manson athletes as “his kids.” He loved “his kids” and it showed. “His kids” would talk with him and receive counsel, he would take stats, and he would share his observations with the coaches. His knowledge of the sporting scene was impressive.

I could go on but I just wanted to relay a “feel good” story about one man’s devotion to service and community by going “above and beyond the call of duty” which, in this case, greatly impacted hundreds of school kids. Our family witnessed a tremendous display of character by our youth for no other reason than to express gratitude for their beloved bus driver. Not a bad legacy.

His brother

Brent Paulson