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johnstonOOIDA2 Photo: Nikohle Ellis
Johnston (holding picture) served as OOIDA's president and CEO for over 43 years.

OOIDA’s Jim Johnston succumbs to lung cancer

Johnston had led famed owner-operator organization for nearly half a century.

Jim Johnston, the longtime president and CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, passed away this week at his home in Grain Valley, MO, after a year-long-battle with lung cancer.

He’d led OOIDA since 1974, a year after the group’s inception, working tirelessly on any number of issues that affected owner-operators, small fleets, and other independents working in the trucking industry.

Despite his illness, Johnston continued piloting OOIDA in battle against several contentious issues, especially the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate – though rule went into effect December 18 last year, despite a wide variety of efforts by the group to delay it, which included an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The trucking industry has lost a visionary and crusader for the rights of all truckers,” noted Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, in a statement, who will now serve as the group’s acting president in the wake of Johnston’s passing.

“He [Johnston] 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,” Spencer noted.

“Every driver today is better off because of that decision Johnston made years ago,” Spencer added. “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.”

Even sometime-adversaries took a moment to salutes Johnston’s career and legacy, most notably the American Trucking Associations (ATA). 

 “We are saddened by the news of Jim’s passing,” said Chris Spear, ATA’s president and CEO, in a statement.

“One of the first meetings I had in this role was with Jim and his team. He was a passionate leader for drivers and the industry, advocating issues that helped build this great nation,” Spear noted. “Jim never strayed from who he was and who he represented – truckers. Jim was a warrior and he will be missed.”

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