Helen Shrock; Ventura's 1st Female Bus Driver

Helen Shrock of Ventura, a housewife who broke ground during World War II when she became the first woman bus driver in the city of Ventura, died in a Ventura convalescent hospital Sunday after a long illness. She was 88.

Shrock was born Sept. 21, 1904, in Milledgeville, Ill., and lived in Ventura County for 57 years.

She was a waitress at the former Wimpy's restaurant operated by her second husband, Henning Fatter, until food rationing forced its closure during World War II, according to her daughter, Irene Gregoire.

With many of the county's men in the armed forces, Shrock joined the formerly all-male corps of drivers for the city of Ventura's public bus system, upsetting many of her co- workers, Gregoire said.

"The men all objected strenuously to my mother driving," Gregoire said. Assigned to the night shift, Shrock drove a bus for several years until the war ended.

"She was an outstanding driver," Gregoire said, adding that her mother never had a traffic citation or accident. "But the resentment of the men hurt her very much."

Shrock was also a top skeet shooter, competing locally and twice winning the California Trapshooting Championship for women during the mid-1940s, Gregoire said. Her skill irritated some of the men she defeated during Sunday tournaments at the Pierpont Bay gun club, she said.

"Mother liked a bit of a challenge," Gregoire said.

Also surviving are a sister, Lucille Viele of Granite Shoals, Tex.; two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A graveside service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ivy Lawn Cemetery in Ventura. Arrangements are under the direction of Ted M. Mayr Funeral Home, Ventura.

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