Arkansas Trucking Magnate J.B. Hunt Dies

DECEMBER 7, 2006 - Posted at 5:20 p.m. CST

LOWELL, AR - Johnnie Bryan Hunt, Sr., a former truck driver who built J.B. Hunt Transportation Services into one of the nation's largest trucking companies, has died.

He was 79.

Hunt had been in critical condition at a Springdale hospital after hitting his head when he fell on some ice at a parking lot near his home in Goshen on Saturday.  A sharecropper's son, he began J.B. Hunt Transport Services in 1969 with five tractors and seven trailers.

By 2004, when Hunt stepped down as the company's senior chairman, the company was a billion dollar business with more than 16,000 employees and a fleet of some 11,000 trucks.

Funeral services are set for noon Monday at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers.  A viewing is to be from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday at the Worship Center at First Baptist Church of Springdale.

After he retired, Hunt pursued interests as a private investor in real estate, construction, and development.  He and his wife remained the largest shareholder of J.B. Hunt stock.

Hunt was born in Heber Springs in 1927.  He quit school at 12 to help support his family, earning a $1.50 a day at his uncle's sawmill.

In 1995, Hunt retired as chairman of J.B. Hunt and became senior chairman, a position he held until 2004.  After retirement, he was involved with the Pinnacle Group, which most recently opened Pinnacle Hills Promenade, a one-million square-foot retail and office center in Rogers.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)