Jun. 14—NEWTON — More than 60 semitractors and their drivers gathered in Newton on Monday to honor a man they called the "The Legend."
Troy Allen Huddleston, 54, of Yale died unexpectedly on June 7.
David McKinney traveled from Lexington, Alabama, to Monday's funeral at West End Reception Center of Newton, along with several truckers from throughout the U.S., to pay respect to someone they all could call a good friend.
"There are drivers from all over the country here today," McKinney said. "I know guys here from North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, Alabama, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and all over."
Huddleston was born May 31, 1968, in Effingham, the son of Kenneth Dean Huddleston and Kathy Ann Wendel Huddleston, according to his obituary. On March 1, 1997, he married Maria J. Partlow in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She survives him.
Huddleston was a 1986 graduate of Newton Community High School. He furthered his education at Olney Central College, graduating with an associate degree in Auto Body Tech in 1988. He opened his own body shop but realized his passion was trucking and not auto body work.
McKinney met Huddleston several years ago at an event in Lexington, Kentucky.
"I met Troy Huddleston at a truck show," he said. "We've been friends ever since. I just had a connection to him."
McKinney's wife met Huddleston's wife and daughter a month later.
"It was like we were lifelong friends at that point," he said.
McKinney vacationed with Huddleston and they attended truck shows to display their trucks.
"He was a family friend," said McKinney. "I went truck showing a lot just because he was going to be there."
He said all of the drivers who attended the funeral Monday afternoon either used to work with Huddleston or attended truck shows with him.
"Troy was loved by anybody who met him," he said. "He never met a stranger and I don't think he had an enemy. Troy was the type of guy, if you were eating breakfast alone, he would invite you to have breakfast with him just so you wouldn't have to eat by yourself."
McKinney said Huddleston's specialty was customizing show trucks. He worked for RoadWorks Manufacturing of Lafayette, Indiana, customizing and driving their show trucks. RoadWorks specializes in after-market semitruck accessories.
Tim Drake of Greenup knew Huddleston all of his life.
"I got into trucking and he pressured me about 10 to 13 years ago into doing the truck showing thing and I've been going ever since," Drake said. "We worked together, we played together, and we're pretty much family."
Drake said Huddleston had a vision when he saw a truck.
"Every truck to him had potential," he said. "Every truck has a personality. Troy could look at a truck and give you ideas for customization. He could see a finished product before he even started."
Huddleston's brother-in-law, Marshall Partlow of Casey, was a trucker for 20 years and met Troy 35 years ago.
"He was a top-notch character and always associated with trucks," Partlow said. "Like everyone has said, if you had a question you could ask Troy and he would have the answer."
Rusty Hall of Newton knew Huddleston before his trucking career. They were high school classmates.
"He was a leader and one of my best friends," Hall said. "He always gave good advice."
J.C. Alt of Lafayette, Indiana, currently runs the Louisville, Kentucky, truck show and had known Huddleston for several years. He said Huddleston had stayed at his home on a couple of occasions and happened to notice a photo of a truck his dad used to own.
"Troy called me when he was on vacation in Florida and asked me for every picture I have of my dad's truck," Alt said.
Huddleston told him he was going to paint his personal truck to look like his dad's truck only in a different color scheme.
"His personal truck is identical to my dad's," he said.
Alt described Huddleston as a "downright good guy all around."
"He was nice to everybody. All of us here today are mourning the loss of a loved one and a friend," he said. "His friendship I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."
McKinney had the honor of driving Troy's personal Freightliner semitruck in the funeral procession. Huddleston's casket was attached to the back of the Freightliner and a convoy of 60-plus customized semis followed McKinney to the cemetery.
"He was everybody's friend," said McKinney. "He was truly a good guy and someone you would really enjoy being around."
Charles Mills can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300126.