Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Randy Rebillard remembered

The celebration of OOIDA Member Randy Rebillard’s life was held June 27, 2015, at the Farmers Hall in Gimli, Manitoba which is about 45 min north of Winnipeg. Attendance was estimated at more than 350 people, with friends from across the United States and Canada in attendance.  It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and friendship as Randy’s families (both trucking and the one he was born to) came together to share stories and memories. For Randy, family always came first.

With a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor, Randy was always in the middle of the action. Whether it was hauling freight, cleaning and polishing his truck, hanging with his grandkids, Jakob and Jerika, or pointing out some dirt that remained on someone else’s “spotless” truck, Randy was a friend to many and tireless with his attention to detail. A vigorous advocate for the trucking industry, Rebillard exemplified the successful one-truck owner-operator.

LL Managing Editor Jami Jones, Randy Rebillard,
Gailand Johnston and LL Field Editor Suzanne Stempinski
(Photo by Cheri Kimball)
Licensed to drive truck from the age of 18 (although he began driving earlier), Rebillard hauled general freight from Winnipeg to Gimli until he bought his first cabover – a 1979 Peterbilt – at age 21 and started hauling meat from Canada to California and produce back. 

Married to his best friend, partner and the love of his life, Jona, they raised two children, Dustin and Jennifer. According to Jennifer, she spent the first four months of her life in that double bunk cabover and learned to walk in the truck. “I climbed up and over that doghouse and was walking at six months,” she said.

An antique tractor enthusiast, he became a Licensed Steam Engineer. This passion combined with his love of all things trucking contributed to the name of his instantly recognizable truck – Tired Iron. Painted to give the illusion of rust dripping from edges and popping through in places, his blue 2002 Peterbilt 379 rolled into the truck show community in 2003 and immediately found a home among friends. They won nothing – not one trophy –on that first trip to Louisville, but made great friends. And by August 2004, he earned the first of three Best of Show awards at TruckerFest/Hot August Nights in Reno, Nev.

Rebillard continued to excel on the show circuit, earning high-profile sponsorships that landed him on billboards for Mobil Delvac and in videos for Lincoln Chrome and gave him a platform to help other show truck enthusiasts achieve success. Quick to volunteer and find ways to help others, Rebillard displayed his truck at fund-raisers, in addition to using it as a wedding chariot and a training tool for judges at other competitions. One of his favorite phrases was, “Work smarter, not harder.”

The Rebillards became key figures at the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championships at MATS, at the Tower Tree Truck Show (Greensburg, Ind.) and the Guilty By Association Truck Shows in Joplin, Mo., to name a few.

In 2012 Rebillard’s efforts within the truck show community were recognized by the State of Kentucky where he was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel. That was a huge honor for him.

When OOIDA held its Heart of America Truck Beauty competition as part of the Association’s 40 year anniversary event at the Kansas Speedway in 2013, Randy and Jona were asked to be part of the contest committee – a job they gladly accepted.

Randy Rebillard lost his battle with cancer on May 19, 2015, at the age of 53. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a gentle giant, a valiant warrior and a great human being. His truck will be on display in the Lincoln Chrome booth at GATS. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by to share memories with Jona.