OOIDA Life Member Jim Mathews of Greeley, Colo., died Thursday, March 3, after a lengthy illness. He was a longtime member of the OOIDA Board of Directors and was recently honored with a unanimous vote to the position of Director Emeritus.
His fellow board members remember him as a rock-solid adviser, a methodical thinker when it came to trucking issues, and as tough as the Rocky Mountains that were his lifetime home.
“Jim was a commonsense asset to the Association. He gave unselfishly of his time and energy on behalf of OOIDA and its members. His dedication, commitment and friendship will truly be missed,” said OOIDA President Jim Johnston.
Jim was 62 years old. He began driving a truck at age 13, back in the days when most of the farmers had old four-speed, six-cylinder Chevys or GMCs from the 1950s with two-speed axles. He grew up helping neighbors in his hometown, a lifelong habit from which he never strayed.
At 15, Jim went to work for a dairy farmer, driving a 1941 Ford as a feed truck. The first semi he drove was a 1962 Peterbilt cabover with a 270 Cummins and a 10-speed transmission. He pulled a hopper trailer and a steel cattle trailer. During Jim’s long career, he hauled corn silage, sugar beets, grain, cattle, milk, reefer and dry box freight. In 1983, he went into business as Jim Mathews Trucking Co., based in Greeley, Colo., and was extremely proud of his success in trucking.
He spent a lifetime driving the Rocky Mountains and other western mountain ranges. It was a job that he always said was “wild and wooly,” but left a trucker with a treasury of majestic memories.
Jim and his wife, Cory, have been married since July of 2002. The Mathews ranch, which is located near Greeley, has been home to Jim, Cory and family. He was a member of the Glad Tidings Assembly of God and was a devoted fan of the Denver Broncos. The team’s 2016 Super Bowl win was “a thrill” for Jim.
He was a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association since 1990 and longtime OOIDA board member. He reluctantly resigned in 2014 after the serious nature of his illness prevented him from attending the two annual board meetings in Grain Valley, Mo. In 2015 he was voted Director Emeritus by the board, an elite honor bestowed on only a few.
“Like many an old school trucker Jim was a little rough around the edges when I first met him,” recalls fellow board member and longtime friend Bob Esler, Taylor, Mich. “His raspy voice belied the person behind it. But that strong handshake and a hearty greeting told you he was a man of strong conviction in what he believed. Whether you agreed with his position or not, on a matter before the board you always knew where Jim stood.”
Bob said he spoke to Jim shortly before he passed. “You really have to admire a man that understands when it is time for certain decisions in life to be made,” Bob told Land Line. “His voice was strong, but you could tell he was weak. He was at peace with himself and with his God. No regrets. We all should be able to say the same.”
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