Funeral honors Henryville bus driver who saved lives during tornado
Donahoe’s funeral service was held inside the high school’s gymnasium, with flags outside at half-mast. Those in attendance say the bus driver is credited with saving the lives of several children during the Henryville tornado two years ago.
Ray’s bus, number 205, sat outside the gym with black ribbons tied in remembrance of the man behind the wheel. Donahoe drove for the district for 40 years.
Inside the gym, fishing poles leaned against his casket. His buddies say bass fishing was his passion, but so was the precious cargo on his bus.
"He absolutely loved the kids and they loved him, and he encouraged them," said his wife of 48 years, Cathy Donahoe.
Ray was driving the bus the day of March 2, 2012, when most of Henryville was destroyed.
"He actually saw the tornado coming across the Knobs." Cathy says he radioed into the school and then pulled into a subdivision.
"And he went to a house and asked the lady if she had a basement and she said yes and he said I need to get these kids into the basement," she said.
Two of those kids were at Ray’s service on Wednesday and say they’re alive thanks to Ray’s actions. "Because he was so nice, to save us like that,” said one sister. “He just saved all of our lives, he was very brave."
Both call Ray a hero for saving them and the other kids on his bus that day, but Cathy says it's a word that Ray would never use. "He would say absolutely not, every person in this town was a hero, and he was so humble that was the last thing he ever wanted to be called, that was his duty."
That duty is now a lasting memorial on bus 205 with an emblem honoring Ray’s dedication to the district. It’s an honor to the family to see so much support from a community he loved.
"He loved the families in this town, and when you come from a small town everybody's family and that's how he treated everybody, and that's just the way that we feel," said Cathy.
Donahoe also worked as a custodian for 30 years, and coached basketball and softball. The superintendent of the district says his bus will still be used.