Bus route is driving force in Revere family

by Wendy Turrell

In the 22 years that Revere school bus driver Jim Karpen has been on his route, he has served two generations of Bath and Richfield students, including his son, daughter and now one of his grandsons.

Although that seems a long tenure, Karpen said, “I don’t hold any records for longest driver. We have drivers here now with over 30 years of service.”

In one way or another, that bus route has been a unifying factor for four generations of Karpens. When he began driving, his very first bus stop pick-up location was the same spot he used when he was a Revere student.

Karpen’s mother, now deceased, used to stand outside the home he grew up in and wave to him as he drove the bus past her. Last year, the fourth generation of Karpens, grandson Everett, boarded his grandfather’s bus for his first day of kindergarten at Richfield Elementary.

Son Tim and daughter Jess Karpen Sullivan remembered being given a unique duty on their dad’s bus. “We were the bus reporters,” Sullivan laughed. Their job was to sit in the back of the bus and report bad behavior.

When Karpen retired from his ironworking career several years ago, he was looking for something to keep busy, and a neighbor who drove a Revere school bus suggested he give it a try. The new job was an immediate fit.

“I love my job,” Karpen said. “The hours are great. You have weekends, holidays and summers off. We transport kids from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and being around them all keeps me up-to-date with what’s new in the younger generation.”

Karpen said he hasn’t noticed many changes in kids over the years apart from clothing styles, except for one major factor. “Electronics like cell phones and computers now occupy their time on the bus.” Although he noted, “Pokémon cards are still around.”

Karpen does double duty for the district. For the past 14 years, he has also been the mid-day mail courier, delivering mail to and from all four of the schools and the administration building.

He counted many perks with his job. One of his favorites is running into graduates of all ages that he transported when they were students.

“I get a ‘thank-you’ for having been their bus driver and a handshake or a hug from them. It’s very touching,” Karpen said.

He also enjoys driving the bus in the annual “Community Day” parades. “I get big waves and ‘Hello, Mr. Karpen’ from the kids watching me go by.”

For the past two years Karpen’s son Tim – who used to be in the Revere marching band – has pulled the marching band trailer with his truck to all the football games and band competitions. Karpen signs up to transport the students and share the time with his son.

“I try to sign up for all the band field trips, so my son and I can now work together and share memories,” he said. ∞

Jim Karpen drive his grandson Everett to his first day of kindergarten last year. Photo submitted.

Jim Karpen (l), his son, Tim (r), and Tim’s sons Everett and Beau stand in front of the Revere marching band trailer. Tim pulls the trailer to events and Jim signs up to drive the students along with him. Photo submitted.

On our cover (photo): Jim Karpen (l) stands with his children Tim Karpen and Jess Karpen Sullivan, and his grandsons Everett and Beau. Karpen has driven his children and one grandchild during his time as a Revere bus driver. Photo by Wendy Turrell.