John J. Jerue
Aug 22, 1925 – Jul 25, 2020
John was born on August 22, 1925 in Buchanan, MI to John and Marian (Linsmier) Jerue. He spent the early years of his life in Buchanan and started working at the age of 16, driving a 10-wheeler truck. After World War II, during which he served three years as a pilot, he returned to Michigan and resumed driving a truck, which eventually led him to Miami, FL in 1951. After being hired to work in the truck brokerage business, he went into brokering on his own in 1957, spending many years at the Pompano State Farmers Market. The brokerage business was successful, and he founded the Pompano Truck Terminal in 1962. He ran it until 1969, when he sold it. John continued in the brokerage business in Pompano until an opportunity arose in brokering shipments of citrus for export.
John began exporting citrus (grapefruit), shipping for Seald Sweet International, when Florida first began shipping citrus to Japan. After a several year hiatus, John re-entered the export business, shipping large quantities of palletized shipments. He formed Westwind Transportation in 1977, to accommodate the business which eventually shifted from palletized to containerized shipments. He started shipping for Maersk Shipping Lines and eventually Evergreen Shipping Lines with shipments growing to over 6.5 million boxes of citrus in a year. Before he sold the company in 1997, it had grown to a fleet of over 50 trucks and 230 trailers.
While continuing to operate Westwind, John was delighted when his son, Jeff, joined him in a new business venture forming John J. Jerue Truck Broker, Inc. in 1986. The new business began shipping pickles for Vlasic Pickle. Jeff eventually merged his company with John’s in 1990. The business continued to prosper even surviving a fire in 2005, which burned down the home office located in downtown Bartow. The home office then relocated to its current location at the Lakeland Linder International Airport two weeks later. The company has grown to over 30 locations throughout the United States and one in Canada. John credits his success to the many hardworking people that have helped him throughout his 63 years in the truck brokerage business. John continued to work into his 94th year.
John was known for his astute business sense and generosity. He loved life and would always say “I wish I could do it all over again.” John was always told that he looked younger than his age. One of his greatest feats was surviving an alligator attack in 2012, to save his dog, Merlot, who remains alive with 3 legs.
Left to cherish John’s memories are his loving companion, Gayle Farrer; wife (estranged), Murriel Jerue; son, Jeff Jerue; and daughters, Rebecca Thomason (BJ) and Saundra Wike (David). Also surviving are 5 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, a half-sister, two cousins, several nieces and nephews, and his entire Jerue family at work. He was pre-deceased by his parents; sister, Joy Albrecht; half-brother, Jerry Jerue; and grandson, Justin Wike.
The family will receive friends on July 31, 2020, from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Oak Ridge Funeral Care, Winter Haven. Masks are required to attend and the family is asking that social distancing be observed. The family has requested a private service, which will be streamed live. Condolences may be posted on www.oakridgefuneralcare.com. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.