Every trucker has lots of stories to tell, and the more years they have been on the road, the more stories they have. But, if their trucks could talk, I’m sure they would have a few stories to tell, as well. When I first saw Jerry Linander’s 2007 Kenworth W900L and 2014 Great Dane spread-axle trailer at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, I knew that truck was telling a story of someone very dear who had been lost. Jerry told me, “It’s not a pity party.” No, it is not a pity party, it’s a tastefully put together truck and trailer to remember his brother Monty Lynn, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack at only 32 years of age.
The KW is powered by a 565 ISX Cummins with a 13-speed and 3.73 rears, and everything rolls on 22.5 low-pro Bridgestones. With the help of Brandon and Scott at Crossroads Trailer in Albert Lea, MN, the new trailer got in on-time and went directly to Winona Diesel to have the rails painted Sable Black to match the truck – then it was on to Roadsknz for some stainless work (they also wrapped the tanks and skinned the boxes on the truck). Jerry would like to thank Charlie Gotzian at Catalyst Graphics in Big Lake, MN for getting the decals exactly John Deere green.
The mural on the back of the bunk says it all – “In Memory of My Little Brother Monty Lynn” across the top; a picture of a cornfield, Monty’s 4020 John Deere tractor, a deer and a giant cow skull in the middle; with the words “Deere Monty, It’s Been HELL with you in HEAVEN. Love, your Family & Friends” underneath. When I first met Jerry, his shirt said, “Somethin’ ‘bout a truck” but I think his heart says more like, “Somethin’ ‘bout a brother!”
Being much older than his little brother, Jerry was graduating high school when Monty was born, but that big age gap didn’t mean they weren’t close. When Monty was little, he would ride with Jerry in his truck. One time when Monty was along, Jerry got a load going to California and Jerry told him that he would have to go home because he was out of clean clothes. Monty’s answer to that problem was, “You can buy me new ones.” In those days, he saw trucking as Mountain Dew and candy bars!
Monty wasted no time getting his trucking career started. Right out of high school, he started working on trucks as a mechanic. He got his CDL so that he could test-drive the trucks he worked on and shuttle trailers for RTL in Winona, MN. He was driving locally for Ideal Crane Rental, pulling a lowboy and delivering man-lifts, when he died.
A John Deere cap was one of Monty’s trademarks – another was a bull skull (like the one in the mural on the back of Jerry’s bunk and the design he had engraved on the fuel caps) – he had it on everything. That bull skull design is even on the back of his monument, along with the words “Gellersen Land & Cattle Company” and the song lyric, “I am not here for a long time, I am here for a good time.” Monty was one of those people that everyone just liked.
Monty had farming in his heart, but it was trucking that kept him farming. His love of John Deere’s started when he was young. His first tractor was a John Deere 4020, which is the inspiration for the truck and trailer that Jerry built to honor the memory of his little brother. Jerry remembers when he got that 4020 tractor – he was like a teenager getting his first Camaro! The brothers had a friendly difference of opinion when it came to tractors – Jerry preferred his International while Monty’s passion was for John Deere green.
I would like to personally thank Jerry, he and Monty’s father Lynn, Monty’s little boy Brody, and his widow Kate for letting me be the first one to shoot the 4020 and the truck it inspired together. It was a beautiful October day with a perfect set-up that included the shining truck and trailer, the tractor, a freshly-cut hay field, brown corn stocks, blue skies and a little boy running around and sitting in the driver’s seat, atop Uncle Jerry’s shoulders, and in grandpa’s lap on the tractor. Little Brody also liked to pet the chrome donkey that sits on the top of Jerry’s hood – he was just nine months old when he lost his father.
For Jerry, Black Friday isn’t the crazy shopping day after Thanksgiving. For him, it’s that awful Friday night in March of 2011 when he lost his little brother. After talking to his brother about not being able to go out with the family that night, Jerry told Monty his loading and unloading plans and that he would be home on Sunday so the two of them could go look at a windmill that Monty had found for Jerry’s new place. After hanging up from talking with his brother, Monty complained to Kate, his wife of less than two years, that he wasn’t feeling well. Half an hour later he was gone.
After unloading, Jerry was headed to Minneapolis to load when he got a frantic call from their sister, Marcy, that the Mayo 1 chopper had been dispatched to Monty’s farm. Jerry thought his windmill plans would be changed to visiting Monty in the hospital, but that wasn’t meant to be. The next call was the worst of Jerry’s life – all he could make out was his sister saying, “We’ve lost Monty.” That short 300-mile trip home was the longest drive Jerry ever made. Monty left behind his wife Kate, his young son Brody, mom Lilah, father Lynn, brothers Jerry, Odell and Lance, his sister Marcy, many nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Jerry’s “Black Friday” will forever be March 18, 2011.
Later that year, Jerry decided that he wanted to put together a special truck to remember his younger brother. In December of 2011, Jerry got a call from his cousin Troy, who has worked for and with Jerry for 12 years, saying that he had found a truck meeting Jerry’s strict criteria – a black Kenworth W900L with a pre-emissions Cummins engine – in Michigan. Jerry, along with Troy and his son Corbin, went to Michigan, bought the truck, and then brought it home to Minnesota to begin its transformation from “just a truck” to Le Roy.
During the build, Jerry’s attention to detail was amazing – everything on this truck is there for a reason. Monty had a donkey named Le Roy, and the donkey hood ornament is there for that reason. This is also why the truck was named Le Roy. The John Deere green frame rails have taken some getting used to for Jerry, but like all of the green on this truck, as well as the “4020” painted on the side, it all represents something that was important to Monty. Even Junior, the pouty baby that Jerry puts against the truck at shows and carries with him in the truck all of the time, is made with a pair of bibs and shoes that were actually Monty’s when he was a little boy.
One day this truck and trailer will be Brody’s. Jerry said he will have to have something to haul the 4020 to the tractor pulls that they continue to take it to each summer. Monty not only worked the tractor, but he also enjoyed taking it to the local tractor pull held during the annual July celebration.
Starting his trucking career in 1978, Jerry has hauled all sorts of freight in various types of trailers over the years, but for the last 12 years he has focused primarily on hauling blanket-wrapped furniture in dry vans. Jerry has two trucks of his own, as well as four owner operators with their own authority that run exclusively for him. They all stay busy hauling around the Midwest.
Jerry would like to give some thanks to the people who have helped him put together this special truck and trailer. Steve Pearson of Roadsknz in Big Lake, MN, does all of his custom-cut stainless accessories. Jerry tends to go for custom parts, but when he needs some bolt-on pieces, Sheldon at Big Rig Chrome Shop in Oshkosh, WI gets him what he needs. Dan at Winona Diesel in Winona, MN handles much of the mechanical work on the KW and also helps Jerry prep the truck for the shows, while Corey in the body shop has done a fabulous job on the paint – he even took apart and painted a pair of Jerry’s sunglasses John Deere green! The pristine combination has taken home many trophies over the last three years thanks in part to all of these people. Jerry also wanted to thank 10-4 Magazine for letting me share his story with our readers, and he appreciates the time I took to shoot the rig.
We have all lost family and friends that we miss and remember. I can’t believe it’s already been six years that all of us who knew her lost our dear friend Bette Garber. I promised her family that I would do my best to keep her memory and her work alive – she was a dedicated photojournalist for the trucking industry for over 25 years, and after all that time she still had a passion for what she did. After her death, I bought her last camera and this year I started shooting pictures with it (including the ones taken here in Minnesota). Bette’s spirit is with me when I use that camera, and always will be. She truly loved the trucks she shot and the drivers who drove them, and I know that she would have loved Jerry and his amazing truck and trailer.
Jerry Linander is remembering his brother Monty with a truck and trailer detailed with all of the things that he loved and that were important to him. He will keep his brother’s memories alive and pass them on to a son who will only know his dad through the pictures and the stories that his family and friends share with him. If Jerry could send Monty a text message, it would simply say, “We think of you often and miss you Deerely.” Rest in peace, Monty.