The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association announced January 8 that Jim Johnston, its resilient leader whose determination secured a position on the frontlines for truckers’ rights, has passed away after more than a year-long battle with lung cancer.
Johnston, who served as OOIDA president and chief executive officer from 1974 to the present, died at his home in Grain Valley MO.
“The trucking industry has lost a visionary and crusader for the rights of all truckers,” said Todd Spencer, who will now serve as acting president of OOIDA. “He leaves behind a legacy of passion and persistence that we will undoubtedly look to as our inspiration going forward as we continue the mission of the Association.”
OOIDA was started in 1973 by a group of truck drivers that realized a unified voice was the only way to truly be heard in Washington. Jim was one of those driven individuals that fought aggressively to build the effective and influential organization it has become today. From its humble beginnings in an office trailer chained to a light pole at a truck stop in Grain Valley, Jim nurtured OOIDA to its current status as the largest national organization of professional truckers in the country.
“We are prepared to continue the fight as only Jim would want us all to do,” added Spencer. “He loved every minute he spent as a trucker, but when circumstances required it in the ’70s he stepped down from behind the wheel to give a badly needed voice to truckers, the real truckers that move America. Every driver today is better off because of that decision he made years ago.”
A memorial page has been set up for sharing condolences and messages to friends and family.
A celebration of life that will be open to the public will be arranged and announced at a later date.