By Sandi Soendker
Covering member news and the happenings in trucking is sometimes like reporting hometown news. Our coast-to-coast neighborhood, however, is bigger than most. Newspaper folks affectionately refer to it as the “chicken dinner news.” It’s not world headline stuff, but in many ways it’s more important, as it keeps those of us who live and work in the trucking community connected to each other.
In the November issue, you read about the 2009 Arrow “Back on the Road” program. The recipient of the 2008 contest, OOIDA member Don Turkelson of Battle Creek, MI, came by recently and shared a hot lunch with us. As a bit of background, on March 19, 2002, a gunman attempted to hijack Don’s truck at 1:30 a.m. When Don refused to cooperate, he was shot in the left leg as he tried to escape. The incident took him off the road for five years. The Arrow program put Don back in business with a Volvo truck, a job and more. OOIDA donated the insurance.
Don’s been back on the road now since April 18 and has driven 60,000 miles in five months. His traveling companion, a black German shepherd named Shadow, is a “rescued” dog that he has owned for four years. Don says he and Shadow have trucked from New Hampshire to Gulfport, MS, and from Dallas to Denver.
He says being back on the road is “extraordinary.” He recently visited Volvo Trucks North America headquarters in North Carolina, where he tells us he was named one of this year’s two official brand ambassadors. Don says the other is T.J. Tilcox of “Ice Road Truckers” fame.
Speaking of rescued dogs, helping animals in need happens to be a mission second to trucking for OOIDA members Jere and Karin Morrison, aka Morrison Trucking of Healdton, OK. The Morrisons founded a nonprofit animal sanctuary almost 20 years ago and have cared for more than 160 animals.
Although they mostly help dogs, Karin said on their most recent rescue, Jere brought a baby pigeon home, keeping it in his pocket for two days. Land Line Magazine News Clerk Kerry Evans-Spillman spoke to the Morrisons in October, and Karin reported they were taking care of a number of large dogs and three Chihuahuas they took in recently. One of the Chihuahuas was injured and has lost a leg, and Karin is concerned another may not survive. The Morrisons said they’ve taken in all sorts of breeds from pure pedigrees to pit bulls and mixed mutts. Jere and Karin are strongly against puppy mills, and often they take in abused dogs after a mill has been discovered and closed by the authorities.
Jere and Karin are two special people. Jere grew up in an all-boys orphanage in Pennsylvania, enlisted in the Navy and during the Korean War where he learned to drive a truck. He’s been a trucker for 55 years and has notched more than 7.5 million miles. Karin, born in Germany and now a U.S. citizen, has been an OOIDA member since 1988.
It’s with sadness we report on a recent tragedy involving another animal lover and member of our extended OOIDA family. On the evening of Oct. 20, 11-year-old Cheyenne Eloise Stevenson was walking home from a friend’s house and was struck by a car and killed near her home in Jacksonville, TX. Our hearts are with her parents, OOIDA members Jean and Randy Stevenson.
According to friends and news reports, Ellie was an animal lover and an avid horse rider. She was a sixth-grader at Nichols Intermediate School in Jacksonville where she was a band member and an outstanding student. Her obituary in the Jacksonville Progress described her as Daddy’s “little cowgirl.” Donations may be made to: Klein Animal Shelter 208; E. Tena St.; Jacksonville, TX, 75766 or to the East Texas Horse Rescue and Sanctuary; 12992 State Hwy. 22 East; Alto, TX, 75925. Also, a special fund in Ellie’s name has been set up at Capital One in Jacksonville. Jean is a leased driver for Hills Transportation.
OOIDA member Ison “Spanky” Van Meter of Somerville, AL, rolled through Missouri recently and came by the HQ to visit. We enjoyed his stories, including ones about his wife, Dr. Elaine Moore, a veterinarian. It seems she fills the house with all kinds of pets that need 24/7 care. She is frequently a guest on Dave Nemo’s XM Satellite Radio show, so perhaps some of you have heard her pet care and pet health tips.
Jeff Clark, an OOIDA member from Kewaunee, WI, spoke recently to Land Line Magazine Staff Writer Charlie Morasch but it didn’t involve pets. Jeff was talking to Charlie about the human health issues that are plaguing our industry. Jeff says those matters are “upsetting” to him, and they should be to every driver. Jeff is one who is not just talking, but working hard to raise awareness of the issues and then resolve them.
He was recently honored with the Healthy Hero of the Year for truck drivers for 2008 by Truckers News. Jeff, a driver for 20 years, has made physical fitness for himself and other truck drivers a personal mission. Jeff – a five-time marathon runner and grandfather of five – has written a book about why truckers die earlier than most Americans. According to Charlie – who is also a marathon runner – Jeff has run the Green Bay Marathon for the past three years.
Land Line Magazine Columnist Bill Hudgins reports news from our old friend Dave Henry, Brooten, MN, a former owner-operator who makes custom truck designs and more at his business, Custom Studio Sleepers. It seems he has a new mold coming out that is 100 inches wide but fools the eye so it looks like a standard KW sleeper as it joins the tractor. The rumor is that OOIDA member and fellow Missourian Larry Jackson, who bought one a couple of years ago, is interested in taking the first one Dave can make. More than a year ago, another member, Larry Bruggeman, bought a custom KW from Dave. Larry is from Hoskins, NE. We talked to him recently about how much he enjoys the room. He says it’s so big that he “has to get up and walk to work.” LL