Remembering Jim Johnston

January 9, 2018

Greg Grisolano


Following yesterday’s announcement of the passing of Jim Johnston, OOIDA’s longtime president and CEO, trucking social media lit up with condolences.


Johnston’s legacy as a tireless supporter and advocate for the rights of truckers, was cited again and again by those who shared their thoughts and remembrances.Jim Johnston

Johnston was one of the founders of OOIDA, and had served as the Association’s president since 1974. Most of the Association’s founding members had returned to full-time operation of their businesses by 1975. Jim had been elected president of OOIDA in 1974, its third president since its founding a year earlier. Jim said he was the “only one left and too dumb or stubborn to know when to quit.”

From its humble beginnings in an office trailer chained to a light pole at a truck stop in Grain Valley, Jim nurtured OOIDA to its current status as the largest national organization of professional truckers in the country.

Jim was an outspoken champion for the rights and well-being of all professional truckers. He boldly led OOIDA’s legal challenges against many state governments and regulatory bodies on issues associated with unfair treatment against truckers – winning landmark cases in Tennessee, Alabama, Minnesota and many more. He has taken on major motor carriers for violations in truth-in-leasing regulations and other abuses of small-business truckers’ rights. Jim also advocated for the rights of truckers at the federal level, and was an influential member of several regulatory committees.

OOIDA’s litigation efforts have scored wins in stopping random roadside drug testing and fatigue checklists. They’ve also put more than $150 million back in the pockets of truck drivers.

In 2016, he was diagnosed with lung cancer that required surgery and an aggressive post-op treatment plan. Despite doctor’s orders, he continued to work as much as possible during radiation and chemotherapy. He continued to work full time up until only days before his passing.  He remained dedicated to his core mission and that of the Association – fighting for the rights of all truckers.

OOIDA has created a tribute page on its website for members and friends to leave thoughts or comments for Jim and his family. Service information is pending.