Posted 10-05-2004 at 17:02:40
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Frank W. Cyr, 95, 'Father of the Yellow School Bus'
Frank W. Cyr, the professor emeritus of rural education at Teachers College who was known as the "Father of the Yellow School Bus," died Aug. 1 at a nursing home in Stamford, New York. He was 95 years old.
In April, 1939, Cyr organized a conference at Teachers College that drew transportation officials from each of the then 48 states, as well as specialists from school-bus manufacturing and paint companies. At that conference, funded by a $5,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the participants established national school-bus construction standards, including the standard color of yellow for the school bus.
Cyr, however, always thought the color was more orange than yellow.
The color was selected because black letter on that hue was easiest to see in the semi-darkness of early morning and late afternoon.
It became known officially as "National School Bus Chrome." The formula for the color is on file with the National Bureau of Standards.
Until the 1939 conference, there were no standards for the construction of school buses. In 1937, Cyr began a study of school transportation and found that children were riding to school in all kinds of vehicles, including trucks and buses of all different colors (one district, hoping to instill patriotism in the children, painted their buses red, white and blue). In Kansas, Cyr found one district that transported children to school in horse-drawn wheat wagons.