WE HAVE SAID GOODBYE TO OUR FOUNDER BUT HIS LEGACY WILL LIVE ON

Vernon David Erb, born October 24, 1935 passed on to his maker in the early morning of May 20, 2020. Vernon was home with family as he lived out his last days in a short battle with Leukemia. Vernon was born on a farm on the Third line of Wellesley Township. Growing up Vernon and his brother and sisters walked to school each day to the one room schoolhouse SS-8 where Mrs. Hay gave him his only formal education. He did not enjoy his time in the classroom and spent a lot of his time staring out the window looking at the dump trucks driving by from the local gravel pit. Despite Vernon’s distaste for school, he completed his grade 8 education in 7 years so he could join his father on the farm. The family farm was primarily dairy including a prized apple orchard. Vernon would see the trucks coming to pick up milk and yearn to see the world behind the wheel of a truck. At 18 Vernon’s father let him leave the farm to “get the trucking thing out of his system”.

Vernon’s first job outside of the farm was for Don M Sindall of New Hamburg where he trucked to New York City, Pennsylvania and Florida as well as locally in Ontario. Vernon met his wife Viola in 1957 and shortly thereafter were married and the first of three children were on the way. It was time to stay closer to home and raise a family so Vernon bought his first truck in 1959. Some early disappointments and breakdowns required prodding from Viola to keep the faith and dream of trucking alive in the early days. Ontario trucking was highly regulated back then and Vernon sought out Ontario PCV Authority until he finally secured a significant license in 1971. That was the turning point of trucking refrigerated foods, which is still the mainstay of Erb Transport today that employs over 1500 people. Vernon’s management style was one of honesty and loyalty to suppliers, customers and employees. After 61 years in business, many of the same supplier and customer relationships are still intact. Vernon generated a loyalty from the people that helped build the business that is something to be proud of. The success of the company over the years was shared with many charities and food banks across the province.

Over the years, in addition to founder and President of the Erb Group of Companies, Vernon served on the boards of the Ontario Trucking Association, Transport for Christ and the Greater European Missions. While ever humble and unassuming Vernon was recognized for many awards including; OTA-Trailmobile Service to Industry award, Governor General 125 Commemorative medal, Colonel Robert Hardie Lifetime achievement award from the OTA, Waterloo County Hall of Fame, Waterloo Region Junior Achievement Entrepreneur of the year award, Kitchener Westmount Rotary club Paul Harris Fellow award, Wilmot Township Citizen of the year award and most recently the Canada 150 award for Kitchener-Conestoga.

After 43 years getting “the trucking out of his system” Vernon semi-retired and went back to his farming roots with the purchase of a farm. Farming and driving truck was Vernon’s retirement with the exception of an annual trip to their winter home in Sarasota Florida. It was always a surprise when Vernon and Viola would leave to drive south and usually into a snowstorm. For a time Vernon and Viola shared a place with Brother-in-law Titus Beam and Violet in the Bahia Vista Estates. Besides fellowship at Bahia Vista Mennonite church, Vernon looked forward to competing on the shuffleboard court. Towards spring, Vernon would be on the phone getting Dave Weber and Kevin Shantz working on preparing his equipment ready for planting and other bulldozing jobs which he had volunteered. When the crops were in the field, Vernon would hit the road in his big International 9900. His favorite trips were to Bedford Quebec and Greenville Mississippi, but he did travel as far as Edmonton Alberta and Goose Bay Labrador. His grandsons were frequent passengers and many a trip was made with Howard Lebold and Murray Stewart.

Vernon’s faith in the Lord was how he led his life. Vernon was a member of Steinman’s Mennonite Church and previously Crosshill Mennonite church and Mapleview Mennonite church. Many a life was touched by Vernon who always had the time to listen and nurture friends, family and co-workers. Vernon served as a father figure for many with his big heart and understanding.
Vernon will be forever missed by his beloved wife Viola (Lauver) Erb. Cherished and loving father of Karen Erb (Donald Davidson), Wendell Erb (Cheryl) and Darryl Erb (Rhonda). Vernon was a devoted and proud grandfather to Erick Buhr (Tanya Drouillard), Justin Buhr (Jamie Mackay), Lindsey Ng (Gabriel). Kyle Erb (Anne), Katie Harris (Ted), Tyler Erb (Sophia), Emma Erb, Cameron Kiecman and Nicole Kiecman. Great-grandfather of Annycka, Beau, Sophia, Ben, Cameron, Claire and Ailies. Vernon will be dearly missed by his sister Erma Bisset and by his sisters and brothers-in-law Marjorie Erb (Stanley Herrfort), Grace Torkleson, Mabel Paetkau (Walter) Violet Beam (Titus).

Vernon is now reunited with his father and mother Samuel and Lydia (Wagler) Erb, sister Vera Koehler (Fred), brother Edmund Erb, sisters and brothers-in-law Craig Bisset, Gladys Martin (Harvey) and Ken Torkleson.

A private graveside service to take place at Steinmann Mennonite Church Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at a later date and will be announced when the available time is scheduled.
Special thanks to Dr. Reimer, Dr. Grazyck and the palliative care team of Courtney, Adrienne, Cindy and Pat who helped us care for dad at home in his last days.

Expressions of sympathy and in lieu of flowers donations would be accepted to Mennonite Central Committee, Transport for Christ – Overseas Ministry and Chaplains, Steinmann Mennonite Church or Charity of One’s Choice.

Personal condolences and donation information available CLICK HERE.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Mark Jutzi Funeral Home, New Hamburg.

 

  • The Erb Family

21 Comments

Allan Fraser

Condolences from Al and Helen Fraser. It was my pleasure to have worked at Erb for about 12 years. I met Vernon quit a few times and actually had dinner with him in a truck stop about a year ago. He was a great man and I feel honoured to have worked there.

Marj Haid

Sending our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Vernon. He for sure sounds like a treasured soul and I wish I had had the pleasure of meeting him. God Bless

Rich Kinane

I am a friend of Darryl Erb we have spoke many times about his Dad and as a trucker myself I was in awe of this humble man and what he built from nothing and never lost track of his roots.Living in New York I would occasionally see an Erb tractor trailer on I95 or I87 I would try and raise the driver on the CB to let him or her know that I was a friend of Darryl’s and was always impressed how clean the rigs were. Unfortunately I never got to meet Vernon but as I told Darryl when he let me know his Dad was sick from what you told me about him the Good Lord will welcome him home with open arms. God Speed Vernon you’ve done well.

Dana Kunz

“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31) Vernon Erb kept these commandments completely. He was filled with loving compassion that overflowed to all those he met even in the most difficult circumstances. In the words of Krystyna Higgins, “Spirit of Love, open our hearts to embrace all with whom we journey homeward towards you. Amen. “

Sheldon Wheeler

Vernon is home now and at peace but my prayers and thoughts are with all of the family that remain. I trust the peace that passes all understanding will be with each of you and the comfort of the Holy Spirit will be with each of you. Keep well.

Kevin Bowman

My condolences to the Erb family. Vernon was a great man. I had the privilege of working for Erb Transport for over 32 years. When I saw Vernon in the yard he always had time to talk. I respected him very much. He will be missed.

Andy Koopman

I was honored to have been a part of Erb Transport for 40 years.
Vernon and I had many conversations over the years about my family even after I retired. He treated everyone met with utmost respect.
He will be sorely missed.
Rest in Peace Vernon!

Andy Koopman

Our sincere condolences to the Erb Family
Rest in Peace Vernon!!
You will be missed!!

Loretta Knight

I did not know this great and good man but I thank God to hear he’s finely home and will forever be in the arms of our father. Thank you Mr Erb bc men like you rarely exists anymore. I had a great grandfather such a good man as to Mr.Erb I’m proud to read his ob RIP

Olayo Mejia Villalobos

Nothing can replace The loss of a love one. My condolence to his beloved family. Mr. Vernon Rest In peace for me was an honor to met a great man you always will live in our hearts of my family . I will never forget your opportunity you give me to work for your company. I will miss a great Boss respected and Admired. My sincere condolence to his Family. ❤️

Linda Furtado

He left his family a Godly legacy
Doesn’t get better than than
Thought and prayers for those who will most surely miss him
Blessings to his entire family as the carry forward

Henry Groen

Work for Erb in Mississauga for 10 years
Taught me a lot of urgency in servicing customers Thankyou
Condolences to the family

Doug McKenzie

Years ago at one of the truck shows I picked up the then current issue of the Erb newsletter. In that issue Mr Erb wrote about his experiences back in the ’60s where he entered into a lease to buy deal for a well used Kenworth tractor. Something about the circumstances seemed very familiar to me so I wrote to Mr Erb and was pleasantly surprised to find that he replied, confirming that the particular tractor was one which my Father had driven for some time to Western Canada and that I was familiar with. Since then I’ve had many opportunities at truck shows and even Mr. Erb’s open house showcasing his antique vehicle collection to speak with him about that truck and his experiences. He was always gentlemanly, open and honest. I gained a lot of respect for him over time as I watched him stand patiently at the doorway of his barn greeting with every visitor, answering their questions and thanking them for their coming when they left. The Erb Family and the industry has lot a true gentleman and my condolences on your loss.

Mark Riddell

I will miss you Vernon. We only visited a few times but I could tell you had a heart of gold. Not sure how you could remember my name with only a few encounters. Always enjoyed visiting with you. Your one in a million. Wish I could have visited with you one more time. Erb Transport was my first real job and I’ll always remember it especially the loads into Manhattan NY. I made memories there that I still can’t believe today. You have crossed over to your next journey in life. Will miss you.
Mark Riddell

JOHN JUNKER-ANDERSEN

Vern, It is not goodbye but until we meet again.
You were a true gentleman and patient with a young company guy when I worked for both Ford and Volvo Heavy truck companies. However meeting you through serving with Transport For Christ was when I truly got to know you.
You were a blessing and a role model for me that someone could indeed live their faith in the tough world of trucking.
Prayers and blessing to the Erb family. I am sure Vern is already handling the logistics in heaven and serving his Heavenly Father.
Blessings Brother
JJ John Junker-Andersen

Peter Naylor

What a wonderful, beautifully written tribute! Everyone must dream of leaving such a legacy!

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