Johnnie Bryan Hunt Sr., the founder of one of the largest publicly held trucking companies in North America, died on Thursday at the age of 79, the company said.

Hunt, who founded J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NYSE: JBHT) in 1969, had been in critical condition in a Springdale hospital after a hitting his head on ice after a fall on Saturday.

The son of Depression-era sharecroppers from rural Arkansas, J.B. leaves us with a legacy of hard work, family values, the importance of faith, the example of what determination can accomplish, an appreciation for philanthropy and a ton of memories, the company said in a statement.

Hunt had retired from active service in the Lowell, Ark-based company in 1995 but remained on the Board of Directors until 2004. Hunt and his wife Johnelle were the largest shareholders in JBHT stock.

In 2005, the company had a revenue totalling $3.1 billion. It currently employs more than16,000 employees and operates around 11,000 trucks.