Everyday People: Seaside native, Marine veteran now serves schoolchildren

After 18 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Billy Eddy got the chance to continue his family’s tradition of public service on the North Coast.

Eddy was hired over the summer as the Astoria School District’s new director of transportation, maintenance and safety. He replaced Ryan Hahn, who left to become transportation director of the Gresham-Barlow School District.

Eddy retired from the Marine Corps at the end of August, the same day as the district’s new food service director, Michael Kelly, retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. As an artilleryman, Eddy shot and transported howitzers on tours in the Helmand province of Afghanistan and Anbar in Iraq.

“Everything we did in the Marine Corps … encompassed what I do here,” Eddy said of his new job.

The Marines provided Eddy with some experience in transportation, albeit with more fireworks. He’s overseen the movement of troops between bases in California and Afghanistan, hundreds of vehicles between islands in the southern Pacific Ocean and Australia and convoys through war zones.

Managing school transportation involves fewer external pressures, such as getting shot at, he said, “but it has its own complications. It’s making sure kids are safe.”

The district transports more than 560 students to and from school on any given day, roughly one-third of enrollment. Eddy oversees more than 25 bus drivers, mechanics and groundskeepers.

With so many areas to cover, Eddy said he has to trust his employees to make informed decisions. “It’s really allowing people to make decisions on their own, and just keeping me informed. I give them guidance.”

Eddy is one of many veterans employed by the school district.

“I think it’s great for the community,” he said. “They’re still able to give back to the community and have that civil service mentality. Big picture, we can’t do enough for our veterans.”

Eddy, a Seaside native, said his family has a history of local public service. His father, Bill Eddy, is chief of the Gearhart Volunteer Fire Department, and his grandfather — also Bill Eddy — was the city’s chief of police. His wife, Astoria native Melissa Eddy, is an instructional assistant in special education at Astoria Middle School. His son, Will, is a freshman at Astoria High School.

— Edward Stratton