EDEN VALLEY, Minn. (KMSP) - Elmer Haag dedicated his life to public service. After driving kids to and from school for 51 years, he’s easily the most well-known school bus driver the tiny town of Eden Valley has ever known.
“The fact that he only went to school until eighth grade, it’s like he missed a lot of stuff, so this gave him a chance to come back and see the stuff that he missed,” said Delvin Haag, Elmer brother.
Elmer sat behind the wheel of the big yellow bus so long, he watched the kids he drove to school grow up and then he drove their kids to school—he loved it.
“Just the way he could interact with kids was kind of neat because he didn’t have any kids of his own,” his brother said. “So he kinda took these kids under his wing—some of the kids others wouldn’t talk to, he would talk to.”
His love for kids made him a legend as big as the belt buckle displayed at his funeral service.
Elmer died suddenly a few weeks ago. Right before he passed, he was notified that he would receive the honor of “Bus Driver of the Year” from the Minnesota VFW. Sadly, he died before he could receive the honor.
“It would have been nice if it would have been earlier, but the fact that he still got the award is still very meaningful,” Delvin said.
Delvin went all out for his brother’s funeral, making sure everyone knew Elmer’s dedication to family, the community, children and his job. He even made sure Elmer took one last ride. An Eden Valley school bus carried him from the church to the cemetery.
“The only recognition that he ever got was when he was bowling, you know bowling trophies and stuff like that, but he never played any sports so it was a big deal. I just thought he should be recognized,” Delvin said.
Delvin admitted that he never really knew his brother since a 14-year age gap separated the two, but says he always respected Elmer. It’s only now as the stories of love, laughter and the way he impacted so many lives begin to emerge that he’s beginning to understand who his brother really was.