Allen Wildes, a beloved school bus driver for Regional School Union 21, died Thursday after a brief illness. He was 65.

Mr. Wildes shepherded students from the Kennebunkport area to schools in RSU 21 for the past seven years. He drove students to Kennebunkport Consolidated School, the Middle School of the Kennebunks and Kennebunk High School. He had many of the same students year after year. On Thursday afternoon, a letter was sent to parents to let them know Mr. Wildes had died.

Superintendent Andrew Dolloff said Mr. Wildes knew students’ families and that parents appreciated how he interacted and cared for their children. Dolloff said counseling is available for students who need additional support.

“Bus driving is like teaching and any other job in our district, where it’s about building relationships,” Dolloff said. “Allen was one of the best at building relationships with the kids and their parents.”

His wife, Clenda Wildes, who worked in the transportation department for RSU 21, said he loved the kids on his bus route.

“This is hard for them, too. Allen was such a big part of their lives,” she said.

Mr. Wildes was well-known in the Kennebunks. He graduated from Kennebunk High School in 1966, and then from Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute.

Soon after, he was hired by the Maine Turnpike Authority to work in maintenance. He retired from the turnpike authority around 2006.

He was a loving husband to Clenda for 29 years and a dedicated father to her three children. It was his first marriage. His wife reminisced Friday about their early years.

“He was a 37-year-old bachelor,” she said. “God love him. He took us all on. He married me, three children, two dogs, two cats and a bunch of houseplants. He took us all and loved us all.”

His wife said he brought her coffee in bed nearly every morning. She said living together was always an adventure. She remembered times they got in the car with no specific destination. She said he was a great role model for her children.

“They would tell you he was their dad. That’s the kind of man he was. He was love personified,” she said.

His wife went on to talk about his generosity and compassion for others. She noted his closeness with his grandchildren. She said her husband had an impact on everyone he met.

“We adopted a lot of kids along the roadside and took them under our wings and gave them a place to be,” his wife said. “They were here for Sunday suppers, ice cream, Band-Aids and broken hearts. It was hard for me to call them and say Pop is gone.”

On Sept. 29, Mr. Wildes was scheduled for a routine surgery to have his gallbladder removed. During the surgery, doctors discovered he had cancer. His wife said his cancer was incurable.

At Mr. Wildes’ request, there will be no visiting hours or a funeral.

His final resting place will be under a big oak tree on the back field of the Wildes’ property. When Mrs. Wildes dies, her ashes will be scattered with his.

“We will go merrily on our way for some real big adventures,” she said.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com