The idea came to Glen Davis about 20 years ago.
Wouldn’t it be great, the southern Minnesota school bus driver would say, to be buried in a casket that looked like a school bus?
Little did Davis know that one of his friends would make that wish come true.
On Friday, Davis — who died Feb. 15 at age 88 — will be celebrated at a funeral service in Grand Meadow, Minn., the small town where he drove a school bus for 55 years and where he was known to generations of children as their beloved “Glennie.”
And he’ll be laid to rest in a yellow casket decorated with headlights, a side-mounted stop sign and big letters spelling out “Grand Meadow Schools — ISD #495.”
The casket is the gift of Jim Hindt, owner of Hindt Funeral Home.
Hindt enlisted a family friend to paint the casket and an artistic niece to put the details on it, then surprised Davis with the creation about six years ago.
“Glen had always just joked with me about wanting to be buried in a casket that looked like a school bus,” Hindt said. “We just kind of put it together out of friendship for him. I wasn’t sure whether Glen really wanted to use it.”
Any doubt was removed immediately.
“He was speechless,” said his daughter, Lisa Hodge of Rochester, who was with her dad at the unveiling. “He was just overjoyed, and he couldn’t believe somebody was actually able to do it for him.”
Davis took great pleasure in showing photos of his casket to anyone he met, Hodge said, although she had to call them up on her phone, because “Dad didn’t do cellphones.”
Davis was a lifelong resident of Grand Meadow, a town of about 1,140 residents some 115 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. Born on the family farm, he was delivered by a doctor who arrived in a one-horse sleigh.
Davis was a lifelong farmer, but he also started driving a school bus for the Grand Meadow District in 1949. By the time he retired in 2005, he was driving the grandchildren of people he’d driven as toddlers.
“Everybody loved him,” Hodge said. “He was a big supporter of the school and the football team.”
Davis would tell people that he’d added an extra word to the name of his hometown: “Great Grand Meadow.” And he was usually seen wearing a hat with that phrase printed on it.
He was proud of his accident-free driving record. And even after retiring from the school district, he stayed behind the wheel, volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver.
Davis’ wife, Shirley, died in 1996. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by sons Jay and Wade; daughter Dawn Durst; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church in Grand Meadow.