Jerry Landess, age 90, of Portland passed away Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Columbus Transitional Care in Columbus, Indiana.

Born in Portland on Feb. 24, 1930, he was the son of Elbon and May (Boxell) Landess. He was married on Dec. 2, 1951, to Mary Rose Gelzleichter, who survives. Jerry graduated from Portland High School in 1948 and served in the U.S. Army. He drove truck for Marhoefer Packing Company for twenty seven years.

Jerry won the Golden Gloves in Muncie, Indiana, in 1947 and 1948. He also fought on the U.S. Army team. He fought for about eight years and was successful career with 124 wins in about 150 fights. Jerry also earned an Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts.

Jerry's love of horses began as a young boy when he hung around the barns at 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 in Bourbon, Indiana. 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. Jerry has become an icon of harness racing.

Jerry has won 1,980 races, and horses he's driven have won over $2 million. Some of his accomplishments are Indiana Driver of the Year 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 Jay County Fair for 13 years, first recipient of Indiana Horseman of the Year in 1975, induction into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame in 1991 and election as director of the United States Trotting Association for 28 years. He received Sagamore of the Wabash in 1985 from Indiana Gov. Robert Orr, a Republican, Sagamore of the Wabash in 1991 from Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, and was winner of the Jay County Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. He was a member of American Legion Post #211 in Portland where he served as chaplain and Portland Moose Lodge.

Surviving are his wife of 61 years Mary; one son, Gary Landess (companion: Shirley) of Indianapolis; one daughter, Lisa Reyes of Portland; one sister, Martha Moyer (husband: Jim) of Greensburg, Indiana; two grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Preceding him in death were one son, Jimmy Landess; brother ,Gene Landess; and grandson, Jerry Day.

Private family services will be held. Burial will be in the Green Park Cemetery in Portland.

Baird-Freeman Funeral Home in Portland, Indiana, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials can be made to the Jayland Trotting Association.

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