After more than 13 years of service with the Pine River Ride-With-Us-Bus, Curt Peterson is retiring Sept. 13.
During his time with the bus, Peterson has gained a reputation with his fellow city workers, his customers and those close to his customers.
“He’s just kind of a bright spot in the day. He doesn’t come to work crabby and doesn’t bring anything with him, any baggage,” said Wanda Mongan, Pine River city clerk. “We’ve become really good friends and he’s always had my back.”
“What I miss most about Curt is just seeing him every day. We got the work done efficiently but had fun at the same time. He was such a caring individual on one hand, but he never held back a ‘quick line’ on the other,” said Valerie Kuschel, former transit manager.
Everyone agrees that Peterson took his job personally and developed strong personal relationships with those around him. Peterson is known to have gone beyond his duties as a bus driver in ways that are not necessarily common.
“He’s absolutely wonderful with the residents. They just adore him and he always went above and beyond for them. We just really appreciate him for the years of service he’s given to us,” said Alice Taylor, executive director of the Pine River Housing Authority.
“He knows his customers. If they are on a different day than they are usually on, he notices that,” Mongan said. “If they haven’t called in on a day they are supposed to call in, and if they don’t ride a couple times when he thinks they should have, sometimes he’ll call them and make sure they’re OK. If he goes to pick them up and they aren’t there, then he knocks and waits at the door. Then he calls here to have us do a phone call to make sure they’re OK.”
“We’ve noticed the difference in the subs and we’ve heard about it from the residents. He just has a very sweet, genuine concern for people, and for their well-being and going out of his way to do whatever he can for them. His personality just suits what his job was,” Taylor said.
There is little doubt among those who have been around Peterson every day that the customers will miss him on the bus.
“I truly believe that they’re really going to miss him deeply. He’s just been a part of this community for so long. It’s more than just a job for him. He truly cared about these people and had conversations. It was deeper than just the ride,” Taylor said.
“He put the heart in the system and I don’t know that the people will see that same type of care and compassion that he has for quite some time, because they will have to get to know somebody new,” Mongan said.
“I know the customers will miss him. He worked in the city for a long time and got to know everyone on a personal level. He went above and beyond his job description,” Kuschel said.
Mongan, Kuschel and Taylor, among others, all voiced their thanks for Peterson’s years of service and kindness to both his customers and coworkers.
“We’re going to miss him, but he deserves his retirement, he has worked hard for many, many years. I wish him well,” Mongan said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better co-worker and miss him dearly. He has made an impact in my life and will never be forgotten,” Kuschel said.
Peterson’s retirement comes just as a merger with Crow Wing Transit is under way. Under the merger, Crow Wing Transit will provide bus drivers, but Peterson’s decision to retire was not based on this merger.