With great sadness, the California Association of School Transportation Officials sadly announces the passing of Life Member Al Sauvadon on Friday, October 20, 2023, in Discovery Bay, California. Al was an integral part of the California school bus industry.
Al’s achievements in his career and personal life have made him the person we adored and loved. Even though he struggled at a young age to learn English and to become a true American, he became a prominent speaker in the pupil transportation industry where he has made his career. After 31 years, Al retired as Director of Operations and Transportation for the Lucia Mar School District on the Central Coast in California. He went on to become the West Coast Administrative Vice President for Student Transportation of America (STA) and was currently Public Relations Administrator for STA until his death. Al also spent many years with the California Highway Patrol as a volunteer community officer in San Luis Obispo County. Al proudly served in the United States Air Force as a young man which taught him of being the man we knew today.
CASTO members and school bus drivers who have encountered Al will always remember his kind and humorous personality who really cared about the school bus driver and the children who rode the yellow school bus.
Al was the State President of CASTO for three terms: 1981-1983 and 1986-1987. He also sat on the State Board of Directors for many more years.
During the 1991 Annual State Conference in San Luis Obispo, Al was honored to receive the highest recognition in CASTO: the LIFE MEMBER AWARD. He always wore his Life Member pin proudly on his lapel (over his heart) at every CASTO event, including the most recent state conference in Burbank, California in February 2023.
Al received the Fred Sowash Award (the founding father of the CDE Instructor Program) in 2011. On a side note, Al was very proud to say he graduated from Class #2 of the California Bus Driver Instructor Program. Al continued to attend the California State Instructor Program graduations as a cheerleader for the new generation. Al was honored to be invited back to CDE year-after-year to teach as a visiting educator at the Transportation Administrators Program.
School Bus Drivers would recognize Al as the Keynote speaker at many chapter workshops or hearing his voice as the emcee at the Annual School Bus Safety Roadeos for over 25 years.
Al loved the American sport car “the Chevrolet Corvette”. He has owned five and enjoyed all of them. His passion for this American icon began in the 1950’s upon his arrival to the United States from France and has lasted to this day. One of his favorite pastimes is to drive his “Corvette” along California Highway 1 (Coast Highway), with the top down, and with his wife Paula sitting beside him singing Elvis Presley tunes. This was a big part of his American Dream. He adored and loved Paula with all his heart.
Al was a religious man (a Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus) and attended mass regularly. He is also an enthusiastic community participant, belonging to numerous local and civic organizations. He was very patriotic and extremely conservative regarding the military, law enforcement, and national security, Al is a loyal American citizen and believes that the United States is the greatest country in the world.
Al is survived by his wife Paula and son Gary, daughters Terri, Michelle, and Anna (son George and daughter Susie passed away at an early age in their lives). He also is survived by four-grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
CASTO and the school bus community are honored to have Al be part of our lives and honored to have him make the yellow school bus the “American Tradition”. Al made the betterment of many people’s career. We will miss you Al !
Al will be laid to rest at the Dixon United States National Cemetery with full military honors in Northern California.
January 8, 1940 - May 5, 2023
It is with deep sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Tommy Thompson. Tommy had been battling an illness for some time, and it is with heavy hearts that we must bid him farewell.
Tommy was an exceptional individual, with a heart full of kindness and a smile that could light up any room. His dedication to the school bus industry and his infectious enthusiasm will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He was a true inspiration to many, and his legacy will live on through the memories he has left behind.
Tommy was born on January 8, 1940. Tommy graduated from Fullerton Union High School in 1958 and immediately went to work as a school bus driver for Fullerton Union High School District under the direction of Shorty Keller. After a few years Tommy purchased his own small fleet of Crown School Buses which bared the name Thompson Transportation and he served not only schools but private youth groups and churches as well. He would be the overnight driver and would sit down and eat breakfast with the groups he transported. He later sought employment with the Fullerton Fire Department becoming a Fire Inspector and Arson Investigator for many, many years until his retirement. He was a founding father of the CASTO. Shorty Keller asked Tommy to attend a meeting that would be the first meeting of CASTO in 1958. He remained a very proud and dedicated Honorary Life Member for the remainder of his life. Tommy would present his “Smoking Bus” presentation at hundreds of school bus driver workshops up and down the state. He touched so many lives training bus drivers how to properly evacuate a bus filled with smoke.
As we come to terms with this loss, we take comfort in knowing that Tommy lived a full and meaningful life, touching the lives of many people along the way. He will always be remembered for his selflessness, unwavering commitment to his work, and warm and generous spirit.
Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with Tommy's loved ones at this difficult time. We understand the pain and sorrow that comes with the loss of a loved one, and we extend our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Tommy.
December 7, 1945 to December 28, 2022