He was the kind of bus driver who made a point of getting to know his passengers. He also could make anybody smile,
So on Friday – a year to the day that an armed man gunned down Metro Bus driver Brian G. Chapman Jr. on the porch of his home as he was waiting for a ride to work – his family remembered him in a way that he would have loved.
Nine of Chapman’s loved ones took a ride on the No. 12 bus – the line that Chapman often drove and was on his way to when he was killed.
They all wore purple – Chapman’s favorite color – and they brought two giant bouquets of yellow, happy-face balloons and matching lapel pins, which they gave out to other passengers along the way.
“He would have liked it,” said Chapman’s partner, Furmond Bolden, whom he married in Canada in 2008.
Chapman’s aunt, Mary Chambers, came up with the idea a few weeks ago.
As the sad anniversary and the trial of his accused killer, Joshua Mitchell, approached, she talked to her mother, Darlene Girst, about what they could do.
“I want to do something special for Boo Boo,” she said.
The anniversary was heartbreaking enough. Chambers thought they could do something that would honor him – and spread some love, too.
Girst loved the idea.
“He never met a stranger,” she said with a smile. “... He could make a dull party right.”
Family members gathered at the University at Buffalo South Campus bus station at 1 p.m. and got on the No. 12 bus, gathering toward the back. As the bus wound its way through the East Side, they shared photos of Chapman, who was always smiling broadly and dressed to the nines.
One of Bolden’s sisters shared a poem she wrote.
Another of his sisters, LonNesha Carr, 8, went up and down the aisle, handing balloons to toddlers.
“He loved babies,” Chambers explained.
A woman came to the back of the bus to find out what was going on.
As she listened to the sad story, she looked at one of the photos of Chapman and realized she knew him. A frequent bus rider, she remembered Chapman as one of the friendliest drivers she had ever met.
“My heart goes out to you,” said Amina Barnes to the family, and she gladly accepted a balloon and pin. She told the family she’d pray for Chapman when she got to her mosque.
The family got off the bus at Main and Utica streets, where they attached balloons to an NFTA bus station pole.
The drivers of passing buses honked in solidarity.