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‘Fantastic!’ to the Very End

By on November 1, 2018

A Special Tribute to Chaplain Joe Hunter

When Chaplain Joe Hunter arrived at the Pearly Gates after succumbing to a two-year battle with lung cancer on Thursday, July 26, 2018 and was asked about his life on earth, no doubt he answered, “Fantastic!” For those who knew him well or were fortunate enough to encounter him only once during his 70 years among us, the founder and president of Truckstop Ministries was defined by his stock answer to a commonly asked question, “How are you?” Even as his time grew short, reportedly right up to the very end, he simply responded with, “Fantastic!”

This comforting anecdote and many fond memories were shared on Sunday, August 25th during a 10:00 a.m. fellowship service held in his honor under a canopy in the TA-Petro Truck Parking at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. With Chaplain David Owen presiding, the fellowship shared by attendees before and after was accompanied by a selection of fresh-baked breakfast treats, fruit and beverages provided by volunteers.

A Second Calling

During his 20 years as an over-the-road trucker, Vietnam veteran Joe Hunter found himself in or near many cities across the nation on Sunday mornings wanting to worship, but with no way to get to a church. Fate intervened in 1979 when he reduced his schedule to regional hauls, enabling him to minister to drivers in the metro Atlanta area who experienced the same void in their lives. In 1981, when a small truck stop in Conly, Georgia gave him permission to conduct Bible study services, Truckstop Ministries was born. Over the years, Chaplain Joe’s ministry grew and spread the Word with the support of individual drivers, small and large churches, trucking companies, truck stops, including many TA and Petro locations, and others aligned with the transportation industry. 

Chaplain Joe, assisted by others, established 74 chapels at truck stops in 28 states across the country. The chapels were stocked with Bibles, tracts, newsletters, teaching CDs and other materials. With more donations and volunteers came more expansion. But Chaplain Joe and Truckstop Ministries never forgot the core mission of providing support and care for long-haul truckers who could not participate in a traditional church service on Sunday morning. 

Chaplain Joe’s passing was described by his family as “very peaceful; he was not in any pain.” His funeral was held in Jackson, Georgia and his final resting place is in nearby Milledgeville. Chaplain Joe is survived by his wife, Janice T. Hunter; son, Joey (Trina) Hunter; daughter, Julie (Graham) Lansford; brother, Harold (Peggy) Hunter; grandchildren, a great-grandson, and several nieces and nephews. 

Chaplain Joe Strong

In a planned transition, Chaplain David Owen has assumed the presidency. He most recently served as vice president of operations. Even though Chaplain Joe has gone Home to be with the Lord, Truckstop Ministries is strong and moving forward with its mission. Chaplain Joe’s legacy will always be highlighted by his cheerful attitude and comforting message, and defined by one word, “Fantastic!” If you wish to contact the office, call 770.775.2100. If you want to help continue the mission by making a memorial donation, that would be Fantastic! Simply mail a check to: Truckstop Ministries, PO Box 80, Jackson, GA 30233.

About Warren Eulgen

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