Jon Osburn’s last stop as The Spirit’s skipper is in Concordia, Mo.

April 12, 2021

Chuck Robinson


Concordia, Mo., is the last scheduled stop for Jon Osburn as skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer. Osburn is retiring after nine years behind the wheel of the Spirit of the American Trucker.

The Spirit is scheduled April 12-14 to be at the TA Travel Center in Concordia. It’s at the junction of I-70 and Highway 23, Exit 58. Stop by and wish him well.

The Concordia TA has 146 parking spots for tractor-trailers. As luck would have it, the Country Pride dining room is open for a celebratory cup of coffee, and there is a pet area where Osburn’s canine copilot, Sassi, can stretch her legs.

Concordia is just 40 miles from OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo.

The TA is north of I-70. Just south of the interstate is a pretty good barbecue restaurant, Dempsey’s BBQ. The brisket is good, and so is the pulled pork.

A new skipper for The Spirit

“I would like to thank Jon for his many years of service to OOIDA and its members,” said Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of OOIDA. “He has always been on the front line promoting the Association and helping get information to our membership. Jon always had a smile on his face and will definitely be missed. And so will his canine co-pilot, Sassi.”

Osburn said it was bittersweet to be leaving, but he is looking forward to spending time with his wife and grandkids.

“It’s been a blast! I would not do it any different,” Osburn said. “With sad eyes and joy in my heart, it’s time for me to turn the page.”

Remember to enjoy the adventure, he added.

The Association is looking forward to working with Marty Ellis, the new skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer. His home base is in Carl Junction, Mo., in the southwest corner of the state next to Joplin.

“As one chapter ends, a new begins,” Pugh said. “We are looking forward to Marty taking the keys and continuing to do the work of our truck operator/ambassador. He will continue the legacy of professionalism that our members are accustomed to when they stop by The Spirit. I would urge folks to stop by and welcome Marty in the coming months.”

Ellis has been a company driver for nearly 27 years for a South Dakota motor carrier.

He, like Osburn, has been honored as a TA & Petro Citizen Driver. There is a TA in Rogers, Minn., dedicated to Ellis.

Ellis has been deeply involved in the South Dakota Convoy and Truck Show benefitting Special Olympics. He also has several safety awards from the South Dakota Trucking Association and has been its president and vice president. He has also won four South Dakota Truck Driving Championship titles.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello. The skipper enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. There are copies of Land Line Magazine to pick up there. You can join or renew your membership for $10 off the regular price there. Face masks are available for anyone with a commercial driver’s license at The Spirit. Also, drivers without medical insurance can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines.

After Concordia, The Spirit is scheduled to stop April 17 at the Crossroads Truck meet in California, Mo.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL


Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.