Some sad news from Mattapoisett this weekend. Brian Dean, a longtime bus driver for the Mattapoisett and Old Rochester school systems, passed away in his sleep Friday night into Saturday morning. He had driven his bus route as recently as Friday afternoon.

Dean had driven the children of Mattapoisett Bus 2 for decades and was very good at his job. In fact, Dean started driving for Mattapoisett 27 years ago last week.

Not only was Dean a safe and reliable driver, but many parents marveled at the fact that "you could set your watch to his drop-offs and pickups," a very important trait for a school bus driver for young children.

It didn't matter what the weather was like, if Mattapoisett Bus 2 was set to pick up your child at 6:51 a.m., Brian was right there in front of the house on time and ready to go.

"Every time we need extra help, he's always first to volunteer," said Eric Amaral, Vice President for Amaral Bus Company. "Brian went above and beyond for us, whether it was for field trips or anything else we needed."

Fellow bus driver Sandra Travers was in shock today.

"I'm sure all of his (students') parents are going to be very sad about this," she said. "The kids, too. It's so sad. So unexpected."

"We're never going to replace him," said Cheryl Sweeney, Tri-Town Dispatch Manager for Amaral's. "You can replace the driver, but you'll never be able to replace Brian."

Sweeney said she can never remember a day when Dean called in.

"He was there every day. He had a planned surgery, but other than that, he'd never call in sick," she said.

There are many current ORR high school students that have only had Dean as their bus driver since kindergarten. Even upperclassmen who tend to age out of riding the school bus as they either drive themselves (or hitch rides) to school, continued to have Dean in their lives. He would drive ORR student-athletes on the team bus to away games after school.

"He especially loved driving the volleyball team," said Sweeney.

Dean was a New Bedford High School graduate, lived in New Bedford, and is survived by a wife, two children, and his grandson.

Amaral Bus plans on having Dean's Mattapoisett Bus 2 at his upcoming wake.