OOIDA life member Steve Davenport, 70, of Lewisville, Texas, died unexpectedly on Nov. 8, 2018, of natural causes at his home. He was a member of the OOIDA Board of Directors since 2011.
Steve was well known in the trucking and veteran communities for his dedication to the Gold Star Mothers and Rolling Thunder. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 1969-71 and in the Army Reserves from 1971-75. He was an active participant with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall since it was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1982.
For more than three decades, starting in the 1980s, Steve made the annual Memorial Day pilgrimage to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. He rode a customized 1990 Harley Davidson Softail in honor of high-school friend Robert Cupp, who was killed in 1968 in Vietnam.
As an outward show of his respect and gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price, Steve carried a piece of The Wall with him for many years. The one-truck owner-operator customized the Harley in 2000 to display names of the fallen he came to know through the Gold Star Mothers and his visits to D.C. The gas tank resembled an etching from The Wall and included his friend Robert’s name as the focal point.
In 2012, he added a custom paint job to his black Peterbilt. The Chrome Shop Mafia in Joplin, Mo., created a design that includes the U.S. flag and the names of fallen soldiers below the phrase, “Your Memory Never Fades.” The names on the truck include people who grew up in the same neighborhood as Davenport, as well as his best friend, Robert.
The mural looked like a “reflection” of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on the sleeper. The flag was painted strategically above the names to look like it was at half-staff when you look at the stacks on the sleeper. Just like Steve wanted.
As late as 2016, Steve continued to work his truck and that year pulled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center to the Mid-America Trucking Show. Part of the display was his 1990 Harley Davidson Softail, which he had donated to the Gold Star Mothers, who in turn donated it to the traveling memorial.
Steve was honored in 2011 at the White House as part of the Champions for Change program, which salutes innovators, educators and builders. He and then-OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston participated in a round table discussion with 19 other invitees representing various parts of the transportation industry as part of the Champions of Change program in coordination with National Transportation Week.
A career trucker, Steve drove more than 33 years as a company driver and more than 15 as an owner-operator. Over his career he pulled a flatbed hauling building materials as well as hauling general freight, dry goods, refrigerated goods, meat and produce.
Steve joined OOIDA in 1999 because of its advocacy for company drivers, independents and small-business truckers.
“Steve was an all around good guy. He had a good word for everyone and would help you with literally anything. He will certainly be missed by all in the OOIDA office and the board,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said.
Steve is survived by his long-time companion, Joann Rogers, as well as three sisters and six brothers. The family is planning private services.