This is the news article that appeared in The News Tribune in the Seattle area
Although his friends at the Peninsula School District transportation department knew he was slowing down, it still came as an emotional shock when Spencer Mahoney, beloved driver of bus No. 38 for the district, died on May 14 in the hospital, surrounded by family. “We knew he was slowing down,” Shelly Rajkovich, a bus driver for the school district, said. “And after a while we knew he wasn’t coming back to work. But it was still hard.” Mahoney died at the age of 77 and worked for the Peninsula School District since 2005. Being a bus driver was a job he took to help him with the boredom of retirement, but it soon became a passion. “He had a perfect attendance record every year,” fellow bus driver Kelli Harrison said. “He was always early to work, he took on extra trips and he never missed a day, even if he should have.” Because of Mahoney’s dedication and love for the children on his bus and his friends in Gig Harbor, his co-workers have offered to help host a public memorial for Mahoney so his students, parents, co-workers and friends can come together and remember his friendly face and humor. The public memorial will be held 2 - 5 p.m. June 2 at Sehmel Homestead Park. The bus drivers are also hoping to have his bus, No. 38, be shown in the Gig Harbor Maritime Festival parade the morning of the memorial. The parade slot is not official yet, Rajkovich said. Mahoney was born on Sept. 4, 1940 in Spokane. He grew up there until the age of 12 when his family moved to Ione and purchased a store and gas station outside of town and renamed it Howard’s Airport Service. He attended Central Washington University where he met his wife of 40 years, Sandee. Moving back to Ione, Sandee Mahoney gave birth to their first son, Matthew. Seeking opportunities for his family, Mahoney moved his family to the west side of the state and worked three jobs to earn enough money to support his new family and eventually purchase a home in Puyallup. Son Mark soon arrived to complete the family. Mahoney took a position with Gibson Greeting Cards Company and through dedication and hard work launched a successful sales career, which would include; The Drawing Board Greeting Card Company, Playtex and eventually Max Factor Cosmetics. At the peak of his career, Mahoney held the position of vice president in charge of sale, the family said. After the company was sold, Mahoney launched Evergreen Sales, which he ran until his retirement. “My dad’s hobby, funny enough, was to socialize,” Matt Mahoney said. “He just enjoyed being with people. And he found great joy in his job as a bus driver.” Matt Mahoney said his father was the best driver he ever knew. Mahoney spent a few years racing stock cars but was also a whiz at driving long trailers, trucks and RVs. “He bought an RV during retirement and a lady in Gig Harbor told him if he could drive his large RV, he could drive a bus,” Matt Mahoney said. Mahoney always made sure his bus was sparkling clean, his students were greeted every morning and no one took his precious route. “Every year he was afraid someone would want his route,” Rajkovich said. Mahoney was also a jester, playing pranks on his sons and co-workers. Matt Mahoney said his father’s humor will be what his misses most. It was that humor and charm that made him a beloved driver to the parents and students on his route. “When I went to clean out his car I found over $1,000 in gift cards,” Matt Mahoney said. “Just for every holiday, birthday and occasion. His (students') parents just loved to give them to him.” Even towards the end of his life, Mahoney was dedicated to his students. “It’s funny to say, but when my dad was fighting his infection he wasn’t totally ‘here’ you know? But he would wake up and he thought he was driving his bus,” Matt Mahoney said. “He’d say, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make my route on time,’ or try to put it in neutral. He just loved being those kids’ driver.” The Mahoney family was comforted by the outpouring of love from the Peninsula School District community, and says he hopes to see a lot of new and familiar faces at the public memorial on June 2.
Family prepared obituary:
Howard Spencer Mahoney “Spencer” passed away on May 14, 2018 in Des Moines WA peacefully with family at his side. He was 77.
Spencer was born on September 4, 1940 in Spokane WA to his parents, Howard and Sadie Mahoney. He was their only child. His parents considered him a gift. His mother Sadie had extreme complications during pregnancy and his birth was nothing short of miraculous.
Spencer grew up in Spokane until the age of 12. His family moved to Ione, WA and purchased a store and gas station outside of town and renamed it Howard’s Airport Service. Spencer enjoyed the small town and had life long friendships with many of Ione’s residents. He worked at the local sawmill. He attended Central Washington University where he met his wife of 40 years, Sandee.
Moving back to Ione, Spence and Sandee gave birth to their first son Matthew Mahoney. Seeking opportunities for his family, Spencer moved his family to the west side of the state and worked 3 jobs to earn enough money to support his new family and eventually purchase a home in Puyallup. Mark Mahoney soon arrived completing his family.
Spencer took a position with Gibson Greeting Cards Company and thru dedication and hard work launched a successful sales career, which would include: The Drawing Board Greeting Card Compny, Playtex, and eventually Max Factor Cosmetics. At the peak of his career, Spencer held the position of Vice President in charge of Sales. After the company was sold, Spencer launched Evergreen Sales which he ran until his retirement. Finding retirement, a little slow, Spencer was offered an opportunity to drive a school bus for the Peninsula School District and began a nearly 13-year career with perfect attendance.
Spencer was at his best serving others. He was a caring father, who worked hard to provide for his family. Like all of us, Spencer had his struggles in life but near his completion of that journey, overcame many of those trying times and found new peace. He enjoyed the company of his neighbors and friends wherever he lived.
Spencer is survived by his two sons, Matt and Mark Mahoney, daughters-in-laws, Beverly and Rebecca and four grandchildren, Miranda, Ashley, Spencer and McKenna Mahoney.