Zelienople, Pennsylvania — On the outside, it may look like a normal family reunion. But Reid Moon of Zelienople, Pennsylvania, is no ordinary patriarch. And this is no ordinary family.
Moon says he has about 200 kids. But no, they’re not his biological children.
“No, they’re not biologically my kids, but emotionally they surely are,” Moon told CBS News.
That is how attached he became and still is to the students who rode his school bus, a job he held for 27 years before he retired.
However, it wasn’t exactly his first choice of employment. He said he “sort of fell into the job.”
Not sort of, he did fall into the job. In 1990, he fell off a roof while working as a handyman. After that, he wanted a job closer to the ground. But, ironically, he said no job has ever lifted him higher.
“It’s the children,” Moon said. “And being in a position where you can love kids every single day is a lovely position to be in.”
The positive feeling was reciprocated by so many of the kids on his bus over the years that so far more than 20 of them have asked Moon, who is also a pastor, to officiate their weddings.
“He just made everybody feel safe and loved and cared for,” Kaitlyn Hare, one of his former students, told CBS News.
It is a bond so strong that even though Reid retired years ago, former students gathered recently for one last ride.
“They’re finding their assigned seat that they had 20 years ago,” Moon said. “And now their child is sitting on their lap. And that kind of feeling is a wonderful thing.”
What was Moon’s secret to fostering this affection?
“He only had two rules on the bus,” former student Louis Castello said. “Show everyone love and respect.”
It’s a lesson many of them now carry with them through life.
“I’m convinced that when you love and respect people, most of the time, that’s what you’re going to get back,” Moon said.
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.