DAVIE COUNTY, N.C. — Gathered in the backyard of Colleen Gaither’s Mocksville home, family members share stories about the woman loved by her community.
“I knew my mom was a star, but I never knew she was a superstar,. She was bigger than life,” Gordon Gaither said.
Colleen worked for the Davie County School system for decades, working in the cafeteria and driving a bus for Davie County High School.
She had a medical emergency Thursday afternoon while driving students home from school on Farmington Road.
Students Kynleigh and Kaelyn Angell said they saw Colleen’s head up against the window after she missed a stop.
They said students jumped into action, calling 911 and pulling the emergency brake to bring the bus to a stop safely.
“Even while she was passing, she was thinking of them kids, and them kids stepped up and grabbed that wheel,” Gordon said.
His sister, Lashonda Gaither, said the family hopes to eventually meet the students to thank them for what they did.
“They deserve a medal,” Lashonda said. “That was a courageous act.”
Family members say Colleen could have retired years ago but loved the students she drove.
“Only thing I can say. She touched everybody’s life,” Gordon said.
Lashonda said she’s still processing the loss and is struggling knowing how much her mother meant to so many people.
“She’s always been there for me, and I’m sure she’s been there for other people as well,” Lashonda said, wiping away tears. “So her just not being there.”
Students said it was clear Colleen loved her job, and it won’t be the same not seeing her at the bus stop.
“She always seemed so happy. And she always said she was having a good day. And I could believe that because she had such an uplifting attitude,” Kynleigh Angell said.
“All she wanted was to get kids home, and she respected them, and she got it back,” Kaelyn Angell added.
The spirit rock at Davie High School was painted in honor of Colleen Gaither with her bus number and messages like “fly high.”