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Drivers like Sandy Hary are few in number.
In the 30-plus years she worked for Reichert Bus Service in Baxter, Minn., she drove just about everything: school buses, paratransit routes, city and county transit lines, motor coach tours, you name it.
"It’s rare to find one person that’s cross-trained in everything and that enjoys it," said LC Baier, Reichert's general manager and Hary's boss for the past 20 years.
And to be sure, from what friends and family members say, Hary enjoyed her work. Just as apparent as her passion for the job was the love she had for the people she met through it.
Hary, of Nisswa, Minn., died of cancer Dec. 8, 2020, at Essentia-St Joseph’s Medical Center. She was 68.
Born on Feb. 19, 1952, in Galesburg, Ill., she moved to Minnesota after graduating high school. She became taken with the state after visiting relatives there on a family trip in 1972.
"She liked it so much, she wanted to move up there and stay," her mother, Bonnie Cordle, said.
Hary began driving professionally first as a school bus driver before moving on to other assignments. She was well-liked by her passengers and especially liked to drive for youth athletic teams, according to Baier.
In her spare time, Hary enjoyed fishing and needle craft. Her skill in the latter once earned her a blue ribbon prize for a felt Santa Claus doll she knit.
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Her favorite moments on the job were the ones that took her far outside Minnesota. As a motor coach driver, Hary visited every state in the U.S. — a feat she accomplished just a few years ago with a visit to Utah — and ventured into Canada.
Hary's favorite place to see was New York City, which Cordle said she visited numerous times and where she was comfortable driving even in the notoriously dense traffic.
Complimenting Hary's driving skills was what Cordle described as her photographic memory. She had little use for pre-written directions and knew by heart the best places to stop on long-distance drives.
Hary was also an animal lover, having owned several dogs and at least one cat. Two of those dogs now live with her mother.
Hary is survived by her mother, siblings Cheryl Main, Richard Hary and Florence Mullhatten, and by nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Ervin Hary, and her brothers Tom and Ervin. You can learn more at her online obituary at memorials.halvorsonjohnson.com.