Portland, IN – Jerry Landess, a unique individual who has enjoyed numerous careers in his 80 years, has been named the recipient of the 2007 Jay County Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.
By far the most rewarding career has been in harness racing. Jerry was born and raised in Portland, IN. He and his wife, Mary, have been married 60 years and he is a father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Jerry’s first career was in boxing. He won the Golden Gloves in Muncie, IN in 1947 and 1948. He also fought on the U.S. Army team. He enjoyed a somewhat short – about eight years – boxing career but quite a successful career with 124 wins in about 150 fights.
Jerry’s second career was that of a truck driver for Marhoefer Packing Company for 27 years. This career ended only when the company shut its doors. This allowed Jerry to pursue his most loved career full time – that of harness racing.
Jerry’s love of horses began as a young boy when he hung around the barns at the Jay County Fairgrounds and was hired to heat water for the 80 or so horses stabled there. In 1948 he drove his first horse – Butternut – in a race at Bourbon, IN. Jerry was hooked on harness racing and so began an outstanding career as a driver and trainer of Standardbred horses.
He started his own stable – Landess Racing Stables – in 1950 proudly wearing the now familiar red, white and green silks. Some sixty years later, the Landess Stable is still going strong at the east end of the Fairgrounds. Jerry has become an icon of harness racing.
To date, Jerry has won 1,980 races and the horses he’s driven have won more than $2 million. These are some of his accomplishments:
Driver of the Year in Indiana at least 20 times
Member of the Standardbred Board of Regulations for 19 years
Director of the Indiana Trotting and Pacing Association for 14 years
Speed Superintendent for the Jay Co Fair for 13 Years
Inducted into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame in 1991
Elected director of the United States Trotting Association for 28 years
Received Sagamore of the Wabash in 1985 from Governor Robert Orr a Republican
Received Sagamore of the Wabash in 1991 from Governor Evan Bayh a Democrat
Long time member of the Jayland Trotting Association, Portland Moose, Portland Elks, Portland Elks and Chaplain of the American Legion Post 211
Winner of the Jay County Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007
Jerry has truly helped to put Portland and Jay County on the map and has been a real “winner” in everything he has chosen to do in his lifetime.