BUSRide received word late Thursday, January 24, from the American Bus Association (ABA) of the sudden death Steve Van Galder, president and CEO of the Van Galder Bus Company, Janesville, WI. Van Galder grew up in the motorcoach industry. His company was founded in 1947 in south-central Wisconsin by his father, Sam Van Galder.
As the Van Galder Bus Company grew throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, Steve always knew this would be the business he would be in.
Van Galder died unexpectedly Thursday, January 23, in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. He was 66.
The Van Galder Bus Company operates a fleet of school buses and motorcoaches, and its travel department provides the community with single and multi-day excursions. The company’s scheduled service runs between several downtown and airport locations in Chicago and into Wisconsin.
Van Galder, a member of the Coach USA family, is independently managed and operated.
“Steve Van Galder was a legendary figure in the motorcoach industry, leading a highly successful company that includes school buses, charters, tours and scheduled line run service to and from Chicago to Wisconsin,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso in a statement. “Under Steve’s leadership, the Van Galder Bus Company provides, safe, reliable, affordable transportation for hundreds of thousands of passengers each year. Our industry will greatly miss Steve’s leadership and integrity.”
“Steve was both a competitor and a friend, and someone I have known, liked and respected all of my adult life,” said John Meier, ABA vice-chairman and president of Badger Coaches, Inc., Madison, WI. “He was a visionary in the motorcoach industry, leading his company through a period of growth and expansion. I will miss him.”
Van Galder was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was very active in civic affairs in Janesville, having served on numerous boards and commissions to improve the community. He is survived by his wife Sue Van Galder, whom he had known since high school, and two grown children, Sarah and Sam.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.