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Pat's last drive: Fans of longtime bus driver throw him a surprise retirement party
About 50 people packed into the north-end ferry terminal on Friday evening to honor longtime bus driver Pat Engrissei, who retired after driving 27 years for King County Metro, 23 of them on Vashon.
At a surprise retirement party before the Islander’s last trip as a bus driver down the highway, friends, family and riders took turns toasting Engrissei, one of four full-time drivers on Vashon. During his two decades on the Island, Engrissei became known for his friendliness, his willingness to go out of his way to get riders home and the fresh rose from his garden that he often had by his seat. Engrissei, who often drove early-morning and late-evening runs, hit 11 deer on Vashon, and once hit two deer in a day. A sheet cake for the party with Engrissei’s photo on it declared him the “deer slayer.” He was quick to point out, however, that he also earned more than 20 safety awards from the county.
Engrissei, an Illinois native and graduate of Southern Illinois University, said he has fond memories of driving on Vashon and will miss his riders, many of whom have become friends. He even met his wife of more than 20 years on the bus. But of course, he noted, he’s also looking forward to retirement.
The 73-year-old said he’s not giving up on driving, one of his greatest passions. Engrissei has already taken several long-distance road trips and has several more in the works. He also plans to continue participating in his regular poker games. His poker buddies climbed aboard his bus for his last trip down the Island.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Engrissei said of the surprise evening. “It’s kind of overwhelming.”
Above, Engrissei poses by a banner hung in his bus for the final trip. Top right, Engrissei’s wife Kathy Keck laughs during a rider’s toast to her husband. Middle right, the crowd applauds Engrissei during his party. Bottom right, Margo Minnix, King County Metro’s supervisor for Vashon, presents Engrissei with a bus sign custom made for his retirement.