Kenneth "Gumbo" Smith Tennessee School Bus Driver Hall of Fame
Kenneth “Gumbo” Smith is a humble man who never seeks the limelight. He is a man to be honored for devoting his life to serving the special needs children of Loudon and Blount Counties.
School transportation has changed during his 49 years of service. Back in the day, he transported students in station wagons and Dodge Vans with only a chauffer’s license. Eventually, he bought SPED buses and expanded his services to other counties.
While Gumbo runs a successful transportation business, he is best known for his giving and loving heart. He quietly donates to causes such as a high school’s band uniforms, sports programs, and the general school fund to buy things like playground equipment for students with special needs. He takes SPED students on field trips at no charge, and never hesitates to pay a family’s electric bill, buy a student’s school supplies, or even a winter coat. If there is a need, Gumbo and his family are ever willing to give.
"Kids love Gumbo and he loves them". Former students will recall stories like when he owned a store and would often stop and let the kids get a treat before taking them home. One little girl was especially fond of moon pies. Gumbo always made sure she got one! Most importantly, kids will tell you that Gumbo treated them with the love and respect that every child deserves.
He is above all a family man. He is proud of his family and their many accomplishments, especially those of his beautiful and talented granddaughters. Sue, his loving bride of 55 years, has been beside him all the way. She too has devoted her life to the service of our students and community. Gumbo and Sue have passed their giving and loving hearts on to their sons - David and Dennis. David and his wife Karen, and Dennis and wife Julie, all play an active part in the family business.
Gumbo enjoys farming, horses, traveling and good conversation. He never meets a stranger. According to his wife Sue, there are no quick trips to town or to places like the bank because he knows so many people and insists on talking to each one of them. He is also a jokester and has a great sense of humor. When he calls in to the office, he typically addresses me with the same question he has for years: “Have they not fired you yet?” It is an honor to work with Gumbo. Loudon Co. is truly blessed to have him transporting our students.