Final Tribute

Jon “Bruiser” Still died of a brain tumor in January. Friends honored his passing with a truck convoy.

Jon “Bruiser” Still was so passionate about trucking that his dying wish was to be escorted to his final resting place by a convoy of big rigs.

“He looked at me with that silly little grin he always had and said he wanted a truck convoy,” says his sister, Jane Scharn. “I was thinking about maybe five trucks, but he had 17 names. We ended up with 15 trucks in the convoy.”

The 37-year-old Still, who was an over-the-road driver for Decker Truck Lines, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme grade IV brain tumor last April and was eventually forced to stop driving because the tumor affected his depth perception.

“The stop sign would be there sooner than he thought it would be,” Sharn says. “In the truckstops, he’d walk into things thinking he was walking between them.”

Still returned his truck and refrigerated trailer to his boss, Bruce Wheatley, and had surgery to remove an egg-sized piece of the tumor. The tumor was so deep that all of it could not be removed, and it began to grow back very rapidly. When both experimental and traditional chemotherapy proved useless, Still decided he had had enough.

“He was really sick on Thanksgiving, and that’s when he said he wasn’t going to do it anymore,” Scharn says. “Jon faced his illness with a lot of bravery. He always said, ‘This is in the Lord’s hands; there’s nothing we can do about it.’ He never complained.”

Still passed away on Jan. 20, 2003. At the funeral in Pocahontas, Iowa, the trucks led the hearse, each with a black flag waving on its antenna. Mary and Walt Phillips, for whom Still had started driving when he was 21, made the flags.

“At the end of the funeral, they all blasted their horns three times, kind of like a soldier’s salute,” says Crystal Phillips, whose husband Mark was in the convoy. “It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”

Still not only loved the open road, he enjoyed his time away from the job, when he was with his family. “He liked to fish, camp and go to the races.” Scharn says. “He just liked to spend time with his wife and his dog when he was home. He loved his nieces and nephews.”

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“He was a good man. He had lots of friends. You didn’t have any trouble liking him,” says Wheatley, who was a member of the convoy. “He loved the Lord. He enjoyed Bible studies and he was a good, strong Christian.”