Johnelle Hunt to retire from J.B. Hunt May 1

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Johnelle Hunt, who with her late husband J.B. Hunt founded one of the country’s largest trucking firms, says she will retire from the board of directors of J.B. Hunt Transport Services on May 1, Arkansas Business reported today, March 19. The announcement was part of the Lowell-based trucking firm’s proxy, filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Monday, March 17. Mrs. Hunt’s shares are worth $1 billion, according to Arkansas Business.

Mrs. Hunt, 76, has been the company’s corporate secretary since 1988 and a board member since 1993; before those roles, she was credit manager and secretary-treasurer of the company. Mrs. Hunt is retiring from the board in compliance with the director retirement policy adopted on Jan. 26, 2006, which mandates that a director is not eligible to stand for re-election once he or she reaches 72 years of age.

Johnnie Bryan Hunt Sr. died Dec. 7, 2006, from head injuries suffered five days earlier when he slipped on ice and fell at his home in Goshen, Ark.; he was 79. Born in Cleburne County in 1927, Hunt started J.B. Hunt Co., a rice hull business, in 1961. Eight years later, he started J.B. Hunt Transport with five trucks and seven refrigerated trailers as a sideline to support his rice hull business.

His efforts made way for the evolution to J.B. Hunt Transport Services, now a billion-dollar publicly traded company with more than 16,000 employees — including more than 13,000 drivers — and a fleet of some 12,000 trucks and 53,000 trailers. J.B. Hunt Transport Services ranks No. 8 on The CCJ Top 250, the magazine’s annual listing of the nation’s leading for-hire trucking operations.

Hunt gave up his position of company president in 1982 but continued to serve as chairman until 1995. He took on the title senior chairman, turning over day-to-day operations. In 2004, Hunt fully retired from the company and focused on his real estate development venture.