PASCO, WA - It's been almost two weeks since Richard Lenhart was taken suddenly from this world during a stabbing while driving a Pasco school bus. His friends are trying to focus on celebrating his life.
"I know he is smiling down on us." said Daniel Gottschalk, Transportation Manager of Pasco school buses.
It was Gottschalk, a former Air Force Veteran, who recruited Richard (also an Air Force Veteran) to be a bus driver 6 years ago.
"I still remember recruiting him. He was such a funny and positive guy and wore suspenders with his belly and white legs hanging out. That's how I love remembering him." said Gottschalk with a huge smile.
Another fellow bus driver, Linda Faley, said Richard was known as the "friendly and gentle giant."
"He'd always put on a cup of coffee for us in the morning." said Faley.
His colleagues remember his as a great man who was loved by the fellow bus drivers, children, and his family.
"If you need proof of the kind of man he is just look at his wife of 36 years who is amazing and a beautiful reflection of him." said Gottschalk. "She has a very strong faith which she has been leaning on to get her through this time."
Gottschalk had just come back from driving another school bus when he heard about Richard's last moments.
"I was in complete shock and still kind of am." said Gottschalk.
But what he is trying to focus on, is the legacy Richard is leaving behind.
"Being a bus driver is great, and soon you really start to fall in love with the job and the kids. And that's exactly what happened with Richard. He loved the kids and they loved him." said Gottschalk.
Gottschalk said he knows Richard would want the children to succeed and not feel too bad about Richard.
"He would want them to be able to move on and be happy with their lives. To finish school strong and to go to college and make a difference in this world." said Gottschalk.
Now, this Saturday, set to begin at 10pm, bus drivers from over 60 buses, around 12 different schools from here to Othello and Wenatchee, Pasco Fire Department, and Pasco Police Department, will be participating in a bus parade to honor Richard Lenhart.
The bus route is set to begin at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Lewis Street, continue down 10th Avenue past Longfellow Elementary, and then turn right on Sylvester Street. The buses will continue east down Sylvester Street, before turning left on 1st Avenue. From there, the parade will continue along 1st Avenue until it turns into Court Street and then intersects with 4th Avenue. The buses will then turn right onto 4th Avenue and proceed north to the PSD Bus Garage on Stearman Avenue. Any last minute changes will be shared with the community via Pasco School district.
The whole community is invited to the parade. Anyone who wishes to attend is asked to line up along 10th Avenue from Clark Street to Sylvester Street, and along Sylvester Street from 10th Avenue to 1st Avenue.
Schools who have confirmed attendance are Kennewick, Richland, Finley, Burbank, North Franklin, Othello, Grandview, Sunnyside, Wenatchee, and Snoqualmie Valley.
The family of Richard Lenhart communicated through a third party one way they would like the community to support them, and that is to pray for the children who were on the bus and their families as well as all the bus drivers.
You can also make donations to support the Lenhart family by visiting any Community First Bank locations in Tri-Cities and giving money to the account ending in 0629.