Former ATA Chairman Garner succumbs to illness

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Garner Transportation Group co-founder and former American Trucking Associations Chairman Vernon Eugene Garner died Tuesday, March 20, at age 69. Surrounded by family, he succumbed to a lengthy illness at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The Findlay, Ohio, resident was born on March 28, 1937, in Wood County, Ohio, to Kenneth and Ida Kepp Garner. He married high-school sweetheart Regina (Jean) Reynolds on Oct. 6, 1957, and she survives him.

Garner graduated from Montgomery Local School in Wayne, Ohio, in 1955 and went to work for Libbey Owens Ford Glass in Rossford, Ohio. In 1960, he and his wife founded Garner Trucking in Findlay, and began hauling agricultural products. Gradually, the company’s focus shifted to regional shipment of general commodities. The company opened a satellite terminal in Greenville, S.C., and added other services, including expediting, warehousing, logistics management, third-party services, contract maintenance and transportation consulting. In 1997, the Garners formed an umbrella company, Garner Transportation Group Inc.

Garner joined the Ohio Trucking Association Board of Trustees in 1981 and became OTA chairman in 2000. The highlight of his chairmanship of the ATA in 2002 was his meeting with President George W. Bush in the White House Rose Garden. Garner also was a longtime member of the Truckload Carriers Association Board of Directors.

ATA Chairman Patrick E. Quinn recalled Garner as “a talented businessman dedicated to the trucking industry, one who was always willing to give back to the trade that had made him such a success.” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said, “The entire ATA family sends its deepest sympathy to Jean, and to their daughters and extended family. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we focus on our many happy memories of Vern and Jean’s time with us.”

“Vern was a man of integrity,” said Keith Tuttle, an Ohio Trucking Association member. “He was a true gentleman, and one who was grateful for what the industry did for him and always gave back.”

Garner was a man of strong faith and was a member of the College First Church of God in Findlay. He was a trustee of the University of Findlay, which gave him an honorary doctorate degree in 1996. Garner also gave his time and talents to many community organizations, including the GOP of Hancock County, The Humane Society, Birchaven, Chamber of Commerce, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Rotary International.

His special interests were spending time in Florida, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, yard work, Ohio State University football, NASCAR and caring for his many beloved pets. Garner touched many lives and will be missed by numerous family, friends, employees and colleagues.

In addition to his wife, he also is survived by a sister, Nancy Thompson of Fremont, Ohio; three daughters, Stephanie Kramer and Sherri Brumbaugh of Findlay, and Shellene Garner of Dublin; and five grandchildren: Amber and A.J. Kramer, and Zachary, Benjamin and Jonathan Brumbaugh, all of Findlay.

Services will be held on Saturday, March 24, at 10:30 a.m. at College First Church of God, Findlay. Burial will follow at Maple Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today and 2 to 5 p.m. Friday at Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay, and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday.

Memorials can be made to the College First Church of God, 1100 North Main St., Findlay, OH 45840; Humane Society of Hancock County, 4550 Fostoria Ave., Findlay, OH 45840; or OSU Foundation for Melanoma Research, P.O. Box 183112, Columbus, OH 43218. Online condolences may be made at www.coldrencrates.com.