‘Missed beyond belief’: Colleagues honor bus driver’s memory

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Daniel Hicks’ name and memory will live forever.

“We all loved him,” Terri Borders, one of 60 or so Johnston school bus staffers, said late last Wednesday afternoon at the First Student Transportation Company yard off Green Earth Way. “Dan had a great sense of humor. He gave his heart and soul to this job.”

That was one of many statements from people like Mickey Gautier, Joanne Ravo, Lisa Annicelli and Borders, who coordinated a memorial and tribute to honor their late and beloved friend and co-worker who passed away in April at 51 years old.

“Dan could put a smile on your face when you were having a bad day,” Ravo said. “We were all saddened by his unfortunate passing.”

Others in attendance to honor Hick’s memory were Thomas Cute, president/business agent for Local 618ATU; 618 vice president Joseph Cole; First Student union steward Lisa Arsenault; First Student manager Brad Verdi; and Dave Cournoyer, who supervises bus transportation for the Johnston Public Schools.

Annicelli announced that Local 619ATU was donating $1,000 in Hicks’ name and memory to The Autism Project of Rhode Island.

The group did so, Borders later explained, “in memory of Dan Hicks, whose passion was driving a bus for special needs students for the last 10 years and most notable those children who attend The Graniteville School.”

Likewise, that check – which Annicelli presented to Kristen S. Steiner, senior development director for The Autism Project – was topped with two more anonymous donations of $100 each that Borders said “enabled 618 to remember Dan Hicks with a total of $1,200” through donations from “monitors, aides, staff and even some school teachers whose lives he touched.”

The picture plaque, made by Local 618 for First Student headquarters in Johnston, best summed up the drivers’ feelings about Hicks.

“Your life was a blessing,” the first line of the plaque read. “Your memory a treasure; you are loved beyond words and missed beyond belief.”

The plaque also featured Hicks’ picture and two solid hearts, done in black ink and printed on opposite sides around the words that read “Forever in our Hearts.”

There was yet another heartfelt moment during closing remarks – one that thrilled the late Daniel Hicks’ brother Jack Faye. Bus 155 will be retired on June 14, and the number will no longer appear on any First Student bus in Johnston.

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