Citizen Driver Marty Ellis leads by example

May 24, 2017

Greg Grisolano


OOIDA Senior Member Marty Ellis says his experience as a 2017 TA/Petro Citizen Driver honoree has been surreal.

Ellis, of Carl Junction, Mo., a bedroom community north of Joplin, drives for A&A Express out of Brandon, S.D. On Sunday, May 21, he and his family and guests attended a dedication ceremony at the TA in Rogers, Minn., which was named in his honor. He says the company rented a tour bus for him and his guests to attend the event.

“It was almost like being a rock star,” Ellis said. “There was a whole bunch of people waiting to greet us. It was kind of surreal. You never think in this industry that you’d get this kind of recognition. But (the folks at the TA) really made it seem like it was a big deal for them too.”

Ellis is one of only five recipients in 2017 and one of only 27 since 2014 when TravelCenters of America began naming truck stops after drivers who have earned public respect for the trucking industry through good citizenship, safety, community involvement and leadership.

A trucker for over 22 years and with 2.8 million accident-free miles under his belt, Marty also has a handful of safety awards from the South Dakota Trucking Association. He’s also won four state titles from the South Dakota Truck Driving Championships, and has served as president and vice president of the group. He also serves as a participant and mentor in the St. Christopher Fund’s Driven To Be Healthy Challenge, and he’s lost over 150 lbs.

When it comes to community service, Ellis volunteers his time with the South Dakota Convoy for Special Olympics. Since 2002, he’s helped the event grow from 18 trucks to more than 150.

“I fell in love with the athletes,” he said. “They have such a great attitude. If you’re having a bad day, you’re going to have a great day after talking to one of those athletes.”

Fellow OOIDA Senior Member and 2016 Citizen Driver honoree Jon Osburn was one of the people who nominated Ellis for the award.

“I think of people like (Osburn) as deserving of this, but not myself,” he said. “I kind of look at it as I’m just a regular, average everyday truck driver, but I’ve been totally blessed having such great people around me.”

Along with the great coworkers, Ellis says he has to thank his wife of 31 years, Deb, and his family for their support.

“One of the things we don’t talk about is our wives,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I needed to do without her taking care of things at home. The whole family sacrifices while we’re out doing some of those extracurricular activities.”