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 Catherine Ann <I>Willeford</I> Royale

Catherine Ann Willeford Royale

San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Death 12 Aug 1964 (aged 61)
Florence, Pinal County, Arizona, USA
Burial Coolidge, Pinal County, Arizona, USA
Plot SEC.
Memorial ID 32329088 · View Source
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Catherine Royale
Florence-Mrs Catherine Ann Royale, 62, Who drove the longest school bus route in the country before her retirement nine years ago. died yesterday in Pinal County Hospital
She drove the bus for 10 years from Mammoth and Oracle to Florence Union High School, a 160 mile round trip, a feat that won her recognition in national magizines and wire service stories.
Services will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. in Christ Episcopal Church. Rev. John Butcher will officiate
Mrs Royale was born in San Antonio Tex. and lived in Arizona 40 years.
She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Patricia Brown of Mammoth; two brothers, Harvey Williford and Sanford Williford of Santa Rosa, Calif; and five grandchildren.
Burial will be in Valley Memorial Park.
This was in the Phoenix Gazette Aug 13 1964

Catherine first husband was Lee Earl Dean of Hayden Jct., Pinal, Arizona and their daughter was Patricia Brown who is buried at the Mammoth Valley View Cemetery in Mammoth, Pinal, Arizona.

Promptly at 6:45 a.m. in Mammoth, Ariz, one morning last week, ten boys and girls climbed aboard a bright yellow school bus. Behind the wheel as usual sat smiling little (106 Ibs.) Mrs. Catherine Ann Royale, 53. But this time, as she greeted her passengers, her smile was strained. To everyone on board, the strain was understandable: the yellow bus was making its rounds for the last time.

In the past nine years, Mrs. Royale's daily ride has become something of a legend, and local citizens are willing to bet that it is the longest daily school-bus ride anywhere in the nation. Each morning Mrs. Royale heads first for nearby Tiger. There she picks up 15 pupils and sets out for Oracle for 15 more. She drives over mountain roads and flat, paved highways, stops at junctions along the way for the boys and girls who are waiting. By the time she gets them to Florence (where the nearest high school is located), she has covered 71 miles, and there is nothing else to do but wait and bring her "adopted family" the 71 miles back.

When Mrs. Royale first volunteered in 1945 for the long bus ride, she did so "on a two-week basis." But the weeks somehow turned into months, and the months into years. Gradually she came to know all about her passengers, and each of them in turn began to call her "Kate" or "Katie." In spite of snow and blowouts (20 the first year), no one has ever rebelled, nor has a single passenger quit on her because of the long voyage each day.

In some ways Kate has become a part of her passengers' education. Her big idea, says she, is to "teach them how important it is for people to get along together." Though she has had Negroes and Spanish-speaking children, she has had no racial quarrels. Only once has she had to stop her bus to let two boys fight it out on the side of the road. Usually her passengers are content just to talk and sing.

Last week, as she waited for her return trip in Florence, Kate spent the day as usual at the courthouse ("I just love politics"). Then, a little after 5 p.m., the boys and girls began clambering into the bus again. Each year, on the last day of school, it has been the custom of Kate's passengers to sing her a song, and as they sighted Oracle on the way home, they joined in May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You for the last time. Next fall, when the new high school opens at San Manuel, a few miles from Mammoth, things won't be the same. After all, says Kate sadly, "it'll be just a short hop."

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  • Maintained by: Karen Brown
  • Originally Created by: Edward
  • Added: 21 Dec 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32329088
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Catherine Ann Willeford Royale (22 Nov 1902–12 Aug 1964), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32329088, citing Valley Memorial Park Cemetery, Coolidge, Pinal County, Arizona, USA ; Maintained by Karen Brown (contributor 47057637) .