Bus community mourns loss of industry veterans

The motorcoach and bus community is mourning the loss of industry veterans Paul Rill and Norm Sawyer.

They are being remembered for their passion for the bus business.

Paul Rill

Paul David Rill, founder of Rill’s Bus Service, is remembered as a leader in the motorcoach industry. 

Rill, 89, of Westminster, Maryland, passed away on May 8, 2022, at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminister surrounded by his daughters.

Paul Rill

His beloved wife of 68 years, Annarebekah “Anna” G. Rill, preceded him in death on Dec. 7, 2020.

After graduating from high school in 1951, Rill continued his passion for farming on the family farm near Carrollton with his wife and daughters. He also began driving a school bus for a local contractor. 

In 1968, he was awarded his first school bus contract through the Carroll County Public School system and established his family business, Rill’s Bus Service. He continued to increase his school bus fleet throughout the years, then added motorcoaches in 1984. 

In 2017, he was awarded the “Top Gun Award” by Carroll County Public Schools for 51 years of accident-free driving.

“Paul was a gentleman and leader. He will be missed,” Bob Crescenzo, Vice President of Lancer Insurance Company, shared in a Facebook tribute. 

Rill and his wife served the transportation needs of Carroll County and far beyond for over 54 years, in addition to providing scenic tours throughout the United States and Canada. 

His daughters and their families have continued the family legacy in the bus industry. 

Rill always enjoyed meeting new people and creating memorable experiences during his extensive travels, according to his obituary. He and his wife began the bus ministry outreach at the Church of the Open Door, involving weekly family visitations and transporting hundreds of children to Sunday School. He dedicated his daily life to his family and business and was a mentor to many friends and others who he met along the way.

Norman Sawyer

Norman “Norm” Pierce Sawyer, Jr., 78 of Yarmouth, Maine, passed peacefully with his wife at his side on May 5, 2022, at Maine Medical Center. 

Sawyer was well known and loved by many as the popular and fun-loving “Stormin’ Norman” motorcoach driver for VIP Tour & Charter Bus Company in Portland, Maine, where he worked for 35 years.

Norm Sawyer

Those who stepped on his motorcoach were greeted “with a smile, maybe a joke, (and then) he safely took you on your way,” recalled one passenger, whose tribute was shared on the company’s Facebook page. “His laughter was contagious, his style impeccable, his resemblance to a young Tom Jones uncanny, and his love of family, people and VIP was extraordinary.”

Sawyer’s love of Maine began early, as his family roots run deep with endless childhood summers spent with family on Sebago Lake. He treasured those memories, and recently the family homestead of Norm’s grandparents in Cornish became the new home for the Cornish Historical Society.

Sawyer was a veteran of the United States Air Force from 1962-1968, serving in the military police. He was a member of the Yarmouth Amvets. He and Lana were extreme Patriots fans. 

Married 39 years, he and Lana Penfold-Sawyer were always considered “two peas in a pod.” 

As the lead motorcoach operator who was married to the directing dispatcher, Sawyer didn’t get many days off. But when he did, he got the greatest joy when working on a project at home with Lana. He was proud of the beautiful home the couple created together, where they hosted the most fabulous theme parties, and all were welcomed.

He was “always quick with a pun, his unique sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself spread cheer to everyone,” according to his obituary.

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