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Sad News From the International Towing Museum

International Towing: “It is with great sadness that we post the passing of Jerry Lee Bullock on Friday, October 7th 2011. Jerry had been ill for many months and is now finally at peace. Jerry was the backbone of the museum for many years. His passing leaves a void that will never be filled. Jerry was a member of the 1990 Hall of Fame and was a very proud man of his heritage. Please remember his family in your prayers.”

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Here is his obituary:

Jerry Lee Bullock was born in Walla Walla, Washington on January 14, 1942. He passed away at his home in West Linn, Oregon on Friday, October 7, 2011. Jerry was 69 years of age when he passed from congestive heart failure and COPD.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 43 years, Georgia “Jo” Bullock; his children Jim (Debbie), Dawn (Rick), Dana, Dean (Debbie), and Lori; his nephews Lance Bullock and L.G. Bullock (their children Ryan, Hannah, and Gracie); his grandchildren Shelley, Cassandra, Matt, Robin, Nicolas, Shaylah, and Samuel; his great-grandchildren Alyssa, Brooklyn, Maggie, Camryn, and Elijah; he is further survived by his beloved companion dog, Bandit. Jerry was preceded in death by his mother Theda L. Kerr Bullock, his father Wallace F. Bullock, and his brother Daniel Wallace Bullock.

Jerry grew up in Milton-Freewater, Oregon and graduated from McLoughlin Union High School in June 1960. On September 3, 1968, Jerry married Georgia “Jo” Lee Wilding; who brought along her five children, Jim age 16; the twins Dawn and Dana, age 12; Dean, age 11; and Lori, age 7.

Jerry worked for Key Brothers Ranches, hauling peas and wheat. He moved on to work for Pendleton Frozen Foods hauling throughout the United States. He then worked for Dee Thomason Ford in Lake Oswego, Oregon and drove a tow truck part-time for Bill Nelson. Eventually, Jerry bought Nelson Towing and changed the name to Bullock Towing. He sold his company in 1985 and moved on to building tow trucks at Jerry Bullock Enterprises, Inc. in Sherwood, Oregon.

Jerry was instrumental in forming the Independent Towing Operators of Oregon, which eventually merged with the Northwest Towing Association and later became the Oregon Tow Truck Association. He was one of 26 founding members of the Towing & Recovery Association of America, which was formed in August of 1979, in Kansas City, MO. Jerry was also a founding member of the Friends of Towing, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the towing industry. With Jerry’s undying dedication and perseverance, the Friends of Towing eventually became known as the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. His passion was to improve the image of the towing industry throughout the world and to educate towers as well as the public about the towing industry. Jerry continuously dedicated time, money, and expertise to this passion. For years, he dedicated countless hours to helping create a solid place for a Tow Truck Museum that would also serve as an educational facility for current trainings and a place to honor both fallen and active towers. It all started with a large trailer that was hauled all over the United States to various Tow Shows. Jerry made sure that the trailer made it to each and every show. Eventually, they outgrew the trailer and found a building at 4th and Broad Street in Chattanooga, TN. (the birthplace of the towing industry). However, they quickly outgrew that building and Jerry was determined to help find a larger building in the same area; with much dedication and perseverance of Jerry and other men and women like him, they were able to find a much larger building further south on Broad Street. Jerry’s dream was realized with this new home, referred, to as the ITRHFM. This building is now a home for everyone to see and learn about the towing industry. Jerry’s never-ending dedication to this organization earned him the name, “Mr. Museum” across the country. He held great pride in seeing his dream come to life in something that is now inspirational to so many across the world.

We wish to thank KP Hospice for all their strength and support, which they have given to our dad and us (his family) during our time of need, especially Robert Yuille and Meredith Seiser.

A graveside service will be held in Milton-Freewater, Oregon on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:00AM. Jerry’s “Celebration of Life” service will be held at Rolling Hills Community Church at 3550 SW Borland Road in Tualatin, Oregon on Friday, November 18, 2011, at 11:00AM. Special room rates at Crown Plaza Hotel, Lake Oswego, Oregon. Call direct 503-624-8400 and ask for the “Bullock Block”. At Jerry’s request, in lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, 3315 Broad St., Chattanooga, TN. 37408-3052. 423.267.3132.

Poem: by Shelley Ryan

While most have just two grandpas, count me lucky I had three
The subject of my poem last name Bullock, first & middle Jerry Lee

He grew up in a small town, Milton- Freewater is the place

From boy to man as time progressed with his trademark beard upon his face

In his twenties he met the woman he would marry

Georgia brought along more luggage than most do carry

Two sons & three daughters & a few years on her mate

Jerry didn’t seem to mind, for him this was his fate

Bullock Towing consumed the family, trucks always on the go

Jerry provided for the kids and his wife known as “Jo”

In his thirties, he was father of the bride to my mother & walked her down the aisle Grandkids followed, getting used to that would take a while

Papa Jerry he became at such a young age that I don’t know if he was ready

He came around through the years, but to me it seemed slow & steady

Trips back to Milton-Freewater I remember as a child

Jerry’s parents, Theda & Wally and apples growing wild

We all loved visiting Grandma & Poppie and Jerry’s brother, our Uncle Dan

Our cousins Lance & LG, their Uncle Jerry is their biggest fan

Jerry sold the towing company & decided trucks he will build

With my mother “in charge” and Dean out in the shop, the team was quite skilled

Jerry’s collecting hobby soon filled the place

Match Box cars & toy tow trucks taking up a lot of space

Eventually it was time to build the last truck

He taught his kids well & wished them “Good Luck”

They all ended up in towing, one way or another

With knowledge passed on from the man who married their mother

Papa Jerry has slowed down a bit and now has great grandkids to spoil

His hands are less often covered in grease & in oil

He changed the life of my grandma & the five children that with her she had brought

I hope he knows we love him a lot a lot a lot!

By Shelley Ryan
October 7, 2011

Dear Papa Jerry –

We still wonder if you were crazy in love or crazy insane when you married Grandma Jo with 5 kids. Little did you know you would soon start to have grandkids? Early on, I remember being surrounded by tow trucks and grease. My ability to take trucks and cars out of gear really made you happy when I did it to your truck and it crashed into some bricks. I especially remember the summer when I was ten, answering phones for Mom. I got to see you everyday. When you got the shop in Sherwood I loved going out there to help Mom. I was always so worried what you thought.

In 2001 when you had bypass surgery a week before Alyssa was born, I finally got a lecture from Snood telling me to get over myself and just go see you in the hospital. Then I made you a GREAT grandpa! Those next 3 ½ years I became closer to you, then I had in along time. I loved bring Alyssa over. Grandma Joe loved seeing Alyssa and I could see you did too. &
nbsp;Then in 2005 a week before Maggie was born you had your stroke. I remember telling you to quit stealing my thunder. Ever since then you smiled more and even laughed more, at least more then I remember.

When you started collecting Tow Mater stuff I thought it was so funny. Being around tow trucks all your life and now you want toy tow trucks. I told you I would one day get a tattoo of it and you laughed. I remember the day I showed you what I had done. You just smiled and shook your head. Now I will always have you with me.

Thank you for marrying my Grandma, thank you for giving me some of the BEST Great-Grandparents. Thank you for being a Dad to my Mom and raising her to be the strong woman she is today. Thank you for always loving your little turd bird.

The last time you said something to me, I told you I was leaving and I loved you. You said I love you too and thanks for coming.

From Footnotes TowBlog: Towing News Around The Web (
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing and Recovery Footnotes

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