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Elevera Werr Retires After 31 Years as a Bus Driver in District 117

It's just after 6 a.m. on a recent weekday morning and the temperature's hovering around single digits when Elevera Werr enters the North Palos District 117 Transportation Department building.

Her ubiquitous water bottle in one hand and her district ID badge dangling around her neck, Mrs. Werr enters the building to a cacophony of 'good mornings."

She is retiring in the next couple of days and admits it will be the "students and co-workers" she will miss the most. 

But a job that was supposed to last a few months until she could find a "full-time job" has morphed into a career that has spanned more than three decades.

"Months turned into years and years into decades," she said. "I was having so much fun and (the job) worked for me. So here I am 31 years later."

Mrs. Werr said it has been a job in which she has "safely and proudly" delivered thousands of students - and some of their parents before them - to and from schools throughout the district.

But she wasn't just delivering students. Whether she knew it or not, the Palos Hills' woman delivered smiles and inspiration to each and every one of the students as they stepped onto Bus 5 for the short commute to school or back home.

Mrs. Werr has this uncanny ability to disarm people with kindness and a sincere sense of caring for others. A simple "Good morning" is enough to turn a student's dour facade into a teeth-showing smile. 

Mrs. Werr reluctantly retires this week to spend more time with family and tend to some health issues.

"This truly has been an incredible experience," she said. "I want to thank Dr. (Tom) Kostes, the board, Supt. (Jeannie) Stachowiak and everyone in the district. Thank you for the memories."