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By LARRY CHAMBERS
FRIES — Joe Vaughan of Fries attended an awards assembly at Fries School last month and had a surprised look on his face when he was called to the stage to receive an award from principal Elizabeth Brown.
Vaughan wasn’t expecting an award that day, and he probably didn’t think he would drive a school bus for Grayson County for nearly 60 years, starting in 1954.
The special plaque thanked him for his decades of service to the Grayson County School System.
“I started driving a school bus when I was a sophomore at Fries High School,” Vaughan said. “Back in those days, a lot of students drove school buses.”
He also filled in as a substitute driver for about a month.
Vaughan said in 1957, he took a job with Norfolk & Western Railroad and moved to Radford.
He worked as a brakeman on a freight train for five or six months before he was bumped from his job by an employee with more seniority.
He moved back to Fries and worked at Hanes Knitwear and Webb Furniture. He was also a photographer for The Gazette.
In 1964, former school superintendent James Hodges hired Vaughan as a bus driver for Fries High School and Providence School after it opened.
Vaughan averaged 35 to 40 students on each bus run, which was about 40 miles round trip.
Vaughan said he had a lot of fond experiences he remembered during his driving days.
“I always enjoyed the children and I hauled thousands during my career,” he said.
He’s proud of the fact that during his 50 years driving a bus, he had only two minor accidents.
“And something that I am most proud of, no student was injured in either accident,” he said.
Vaughan said when school opened for the 2012-2013 school year that he would miss making his daily runs. “You’ve got to miss something that you did for that many years,” he said.
He doesn’t have anything special planned for his retirement, but admitted that his wife Mary had a “Honey-Do” list of household chores.
He also has a bulldozer and backhoe and will do jobs when needed.
Vaughan lives in the Liberty Hill community near Fries.
One thing he probably won’t do during his retirement is break any laws — his son, Richard, is the Grayson County sheriff.
His other son, Randall Vaughan, is a member of the Fries Volunteer Fire Department. He has two daughters, Rhonda and Rheda.