C. James's Story

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Clarence James (Jim) McCormick, 92, passed away at his long-time family home in Vincennes. McCormick was a towering figure in the American trucking industry during the last half of the twentieth century. Rising from the fertile farmland of southwest Indiana, Jim ascended to prominence as a civic, political and industry leader. Born on a Knox County farm on Jan. 3, 1925, to Emma and Clarence J. McCormick. Jim attended Purcell Grade School and Decker High School, where he graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1942.
Enrolling at Purdue University, Jim joined the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, played on the freshman basketball team and was elected class president. When Purdue was converted to a wartime Naval training facility in 1943, Jim returned home to help his mother manage the family farm during his father's absence working for the Department of Agriculture in Washington. As the war wound down, Jim seized on an enterprising opportunity that would set his career path for life. He scraped together his life's savings, purchased a used International Harvester 10-wheeler truck and started hauling fresh produce from Florida to markets in the Midwest over the winter months. The shoestring venture was a success and by the time McCormick was 21, he owned a fleet of five tractor-trailer trucks. After selling his produce-hauling business, in 1954 Jim purchased the Indianapolis and Southern Motor Express company, a common carrier with 100 employees and an equal number of vehicles. In 1967, I&S, as Jim's company was known, purchased McDaniel Freight Lines, a Crawfordsville carrier. With the purchase of J.A. Grant Trucking two years later, I&S-McDaniel became a major regional competitor with 500 employees operating in five states. In the mid-1970s, Jim accurately foresaw the coming federal deregulation of the trucking industry. He wisely sold out to Briggs Transportation of St. Paul, Minn., in 1977, just before the industry was deregulated and forever changed. Concurrent to building his trucking empire, Jim was an active auto and truck dealer. In 1948, while still in the produce-hauling business, he founded McCormick Inc., an authorized seller of White Trucks. Over the ensuing 55 years, McCormick Inc., based in Vincennes, served as a franchised dealer of International Autocar, Freightliner and Volvo trucks; Kingham semi-trailers; Galion tank trailers and Packard automobiles. The company was awarded 1997 "Business of the Year" by the Knox County Chamber of Commerce. Jim was instrumental in involving his children and grandchildren in the trucking business. In 1981, he acquired a small trucking company that became Bestway Express.
During his long and distinguished career, Jim served as chairman of countless state and national trucking and transportation organizations.
Survivors include Jim's wife, Marilyn; sons, Mike (Margy) of Zionsville; Pat (Lynn) of Vincennes; and daughter, Jane (Craig) Wissel of Vincennes; stepdaughters, Barbara Hanson of Carmel, Julie (Gerry) Barclay of Olympia, Wash., and Margy Hanson of Larkspur, Colo. He also is survived by 13 loving grandchildren and 25 loving great-grandchildren; as well as two brothers, Don (Karen) of Vincennes and Ed (Lana) of Carrollton, Texas; and a sister, Lorene Burkhart of Carmel.
Jim was preceded in death by his first wife of 50 years and two months, Bettye J.; his son, C.J. III (Mac), who died Oct.26, 2006, at the age of 55; and his grandson, Brooks R. McCormick.
Jim was a life-long Methodist and was a regular attendee at the Community United Methodist Church in Vincennes, and the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church in Palm Harbor, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:The Community United Methodist Church Endowment Fund http://www.cumcvincennes.org/contact/, The Red Skelton Museum Foundation, http://www.redskeltonmuseum.org, The Mac McCormick Vincennes University Memorial Scholarship Fund http://alumni.vinu.edu/s/1390/start.aspx The KCARC 1972 Project. http://knoxcountyarc.com
Visitation will be Thursday, June 1, 2017, from 1 until 8 p.m, at the McCormick Pavilion of Community United Methodist Church, 1548 S. Hart St., Vincennes and from 10 until 10:45 a.m. in the church sanctuary on Friday, June 2, 2017. The celebration of life will begin at 11 a.m. in the church sanctuary on Friday, June 2, 2017. Funeral arrangements by Goodwin Funeral Home, Vincennes.
Published on May 26, 2017
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