James R. Garinger was a man devoted to kindness to others, adamant about safety within the trucking industry, focused as a professional truck driver and a leader in promoting truck roadeo skill competitions. Jim passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 85 after battling cancer.
Jim was the son of Gerald and Mary Catherine Garinger, living his early years in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Memphis and then in Denver. He attended Mullen High School and graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1956, thereafter immediately joining the U. S. Navy. He was assigned to the Construction Battalion, also known as the SeaBees, after completing boot camp at NRTC in Great Lakes, Illinois. He spent most of his 4-year enlistment in Guam, working on the Rigging Loft team. His military time included several promotions and a Naval Commendation for saving a fellow soldier’s life during a recreational activity.
His return to civilian life soon found him driving trucks, with his employment by the Western Paving Company in Denver. He then transitioned into an over-the-road driver for Denver-Chicago Trucking Company, Continental Oil Company, Adolph Coors In-Plant Distribution and Wal-Mart Transportation. He and his driving partner, “Bud” Crosby survived a catastrophic collision on Thanksgiving Night in 1975 when their truck was struck by an out-of-control 18-wheeler on Colorado State Highway 139 near the top of Douglas Pass. Their truck was forced off the highway and traveled 80 feet down into a ravine. Both Jim and Bud were ejected from the destroyed truck cab into the 17-degree cold of the night. One of the guardian angels that saved them was another truck driver, Gary Maxsom, who became a lifelong friend of Jim’s. As a professional driver, Jim accumulated almost 5 million accident-free miles during his 46-year driving career.
In May 1987, Jim married the love of his life, Patricia Anna Marietta, and settled into their Wheat Ridge home. They both continued working in the trucking industry until their respective retirements. Jim provided loving support for “Patty Anne” during her struggle with severe health issues until her passing in 2018. Their combined love of greyhound dogs led them to adopt 9 different dogs from the Colorado Greyhound Adoption organization during the course of their marriage and prior to Jim’s passing.
In 1948, Jim’s father took him to his first truck roadeo event, which was held at Denver’s Merchants Park, sparking an interest in the competition of this skills challenge involving truck operation. Jim’s devotion to truck safety led him to compete in those roadeo events, winning First Place in the Colorado State Roadeo for several years. During his fifth trip to the National Truck Driving Championships, Jim won the National Champion award in 1974 in the tank truck class. After his retirement from the National Truck Driving Championship competitions, Jim continued to volunteer as the truck equipment supervisor at the national events and as Roadeo Master with the State of Colorado Truck Driving Championships. Jim also was the leader of the Colorado Association of Roadeo Truckers (C.A.R.T.) for many years. He was recognized by the American Trucking Association as “an NTDC historian” and as an “avid historian of the truck roadeo” in their recently published book, “From Roadeo to TDC: A History of the National Truck Driving Championships.
His commitment to his country included a several year effort to obtain legislative approval creating an official “SeaBees” license plate for active duty and veteran members of this specialized military branch who are living in Colorado. Those efforts resulted in that specialized Colorado license plate being available starting in January 2024.
His commitment to serving his Savior, Jesus Christ, led him to provide sustaining provisions for numerous religious charities supporting orphans and disadvantaged children in this country.
A humble, compassionate, contemplative and focused man, Jim Garinger will be missed by the many people from across this country who were privileged to work alongside him or to encounter him in a variety of everyday life events. May God grant comfort and eternal peace to his good and faithful servant.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation in Jim Garinger’s honor to:
“His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'”
Matthew 25:23 KJV