Ralph Hendrix, who developed and formalized the South Carolina Department of Education's statewide school bus transportation operations recently passed away at the age of 97. Hendrix was just three weeks shy of celebrating his 98th birthday.
He joined the department after serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II from 1943-1945. He was named assistant director of transportation in 1953, two years after receiving his master's degree from the University of South Carolina.
Hendrix was promoted to director of transportation in 1957 and is credited with transforming the small and disorganized system run by local school districts into a statewide network of school buses owned, operated and maintained by the department of education.
Donald Tudor, who became state transportation director in 1991 when Hendrix retired, called him a "gentleman" and "a wonderful leader and friend to many in the school transportation industry across the country."
"He was the person that took a badly disorganized 1950s school transportation program and converted it to an efficient operation second to none," Tudor told STN. "Under his guidance, the South Carolina school transportation program became a program that was proud to equally serve every student with the highest level of service."
Hendrix oversaw 6,400 school buses, 44 maintenance and 5,700 school bus drivers when he retired. South Carolina Department of Education continues to be the only state agency nationwide to manage all aspects of student transportation.