He looked like sunshine and smelled like Old Spice and Marlboro cigarettes, and he was a big deal to me. He was tall and slim and wore his jeans creased. He had a tattoo of a lady on his arm and he exuded a confidence and level of experience that was palpable in the air around him. He spent a large part of his adult life fighting for the rights of the independent owner-operator, and if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he was a big deal to me.
Jim Johnston passed on Monday. Cancer came and finally took him away. We didn’t visit or see Jim when he was sick, and I’m glad of it. I want to remember Mr. Johnston just like he was the last time we saw him – looking like one of those old dudes at the truck stop who could punch a hole through a brick wall.
He sat with us and talked about the importance of phone calls, letters and messages to our reps in D.C., and how much power a cohesive grassroots effort really does have. His willful determination inspired me to take more personal responsibility in my government, and led many others to the same inspiration during his 40 years at the helm of of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Rest in peace, Jim. Thank you for your years of service to the industry, and dedication to the independent owner-operator. Your leadership and presence will truly be missed.