(Columbia, Missouri, March 8, 2022) - Today is International Women's Day, and we want to celebrate the achievements of one woman who was instrumental in the founding of OATS Transit - Quinnie Benton.
Benton came to Mexico, MO as a young widow in 1937, riding the bus from St. Joseph to answer an ad for a teacher at Garfield School. She was accepted as long as she “could keep the children quiet,” which she did for her 29 years at Garfield. She would later go on to become Mexico’s first Head Start teacher. She was educated in schools in Elwood, Kansas and attended Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees came from Lincoln University in Jefferson City with other coursework taken at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, the Universities of Missouri and Minnesota, along with the University of Wisconsin Teachers College.*
Her legacy, beyond the shaping of young minds, is in the OATS Transit program.
Benton was instrumental in the founding of the transportation program for seniors in Missouri. She organized volunteers to fight for public transportation in rural areas. This passion led her to serve as the President of the OATS Transit Board from 1973 to 1979.
Pictured: Quinnie Benton with Governor, Christopher "Kit" Bond. Bond served two non-consecutive terms as Governor of Missouri, from 1973 to 1977 and from 1981 to 1985.
Benton's focus was on caring for seniors. In one of her presidential addresses in the early 70's, she stated, "The elderly need and deserve adequate transportation because in their fruitful years, the elderly laid the foundation and blazed the paths now tread by everyone."
Through her leadership, OATS Transit expanded to cover most of the state of Missouri. Benton laid the groundwork for the OATS Transit that is known today. Her passion for people has fueled hundreds of buses and helped thousands get where they need to go.
Benton passed away on March 31, 1985, but her legacy lives on.
She once said, "We are fighting not only for transportation; we're fighting for independence and the right we have to the services we need." That is exactly what OATS Transit strives to do in the communities we serve.
We are treading the path that Benton blazed, which allows us to give people independence and safe, caring, and reliable transportation services.
So, from OATS Transit: Happy International Women's Day to Quinnie Benton, and all the other women out there who are pursuing their passions and fighting for the ones who can't always fight for themselves. Today is for you.
*Information taken from KXEO Radio, Mexico, MO
“Enhancing quality of life by providing safe, caring & reliable transportation services.”
written by Kaylie Hawkins