Cynthia Gibson, known as Ms. Cherry, worked as a bus driver for Hillsborough County Public Schools for more than 30 years. Her colleagues, who have turned into friends, said she treated the children she transported like her own grandchildren.
"Transportation has lost a jewel," said Ruby Shannon, Area 1 Supervisor and one of Gibson's close friends. "She loved her job and she loved her kids."
Gibson lost her life in a car accident on her way to the first day of school. She was set to retire after this year.
Jim Beekman, General Manager of Transportation, says she leaves big shoes to fill.
"She has touched thousands of lives in this community through her driving, her service to her church, and most important to her, her beautiful family," said Beekman. "I have never met a driver so unique and so full of passion for those around her."
Beekman says colleagues in the transportation department looked to her for guidance. When schools had challenging students to transport, she would step forward and work with them to make a difference.
Coworkers can't help but smile though when they think about her sense of style and attitude.
Patricia Scott, a friend and Field Inspector in transportation says Gibson would arrive to work in her bus uniform. But the second she was off the bus, Gibson would immediately change into a dress with matching jewelry. Scott says you could always find her dancing down the hallway.
Grief counselors were on hand for her coworkers at the transportation department. Scott says they plan to carry on Gibson's legacy through their work.