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Year: 2015

Russell Jenkins was born in Adelaide on the 28th March 1951. As a young man either on the land at Milang or on the fringe of Adelaide at Port Noarlunga, he embarked on a life long association with trucks and buses. Russell trained with Chrysler as a fitter and turner then worked in their engine plant quality control department.

In his 20s Russell was drafted into National Service and assigned to the Army Transport Services Division (Townsville) where he turned an interest in passenger transport vehicles into a passion. He returned home in 1977 and following a stint in vehicle and lawn mower repairs, tendered for and won his first school bus contract. Wilunga Charter was born.

Over the next 25 years Russell built a fleet of 20 vehicles, progressing from Bedfords to Leyland, Hino, Mercedes and finally to MAN, offering a range of between 24 and 57 seats. His contribution to the industry was wider the Wilunga Charter. He was dedicated to serving the industry through membership of the State Bus and Coach Association and regular participation in national events.

Russell understood the need to preserve history. He became a collector and restorer of passenger transport vehicles including army troop carriers and ambulances, 1940 to 1951 Ford tray trucks and coaches such as a 1928 Chevrolet, 1946 to 1947 Fords, a 1948 Diamond T and a 1965 Bedford.

In 2001 Russell recognised the growth opportunities before the school bus industry and decided to strengthen the management capability of Wilunga Charter. Over the next decade he transitioned owner operator to adviser for a new Wilunga Charter leadership. In 2012 Russell was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 2013.

His vision, passion and ability to relate to politicians, public servants, manufacturers, operators and drivers not only made him unique but a major contributor to and friend of all within the bus and coach industry.

Russell will also be remembered for his courage in selecting and coaching a lad of only 17 to become the next CEO and owner of Wilunga Charter, now the second largest South Australian family owned operators of school bus contracts.

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