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Pause to remember Jimmie K.Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007, at 6:50 AM
The Linton and Greene County community said thank you on Monday to one of its truly great, unqiue men -- Jimmie K. Wright.
Jimmie K. was a friend to many.
Funeral services for the former Linton mayor were conducted for about 65 minutes at the Linton First Baptist Church. More than 300 people turned out for the farewell celebration of Wright's life.
Burial was in Fairview Cemetery.
The night before between 600 and 700 turned out for Jimmie's viewing at Welch & Cornett Funeral Home Linton Chapel.
Many well deserved accolodes have been voiced the last couple of days about the man who served the city of Linton 20 years --longer than anyone else as mayor.
Since 1900, there have been just six multiple term mayors in Linton. Jimmie K. served five terms, Dr. E.V. Bull (a Republican) served four terms; A.M. Risher (a Democrat) was elected to a third term, but died in office; P.H. Pat O'Hern (a Democrat) served two terms; Robert Walters (a Democrat) served two terms; and current mayor Tom Jones (a Democrat) was reelected to a second term starting Jan. 1.
One universal theme of all the people who have paid tributes to Jimmie K. since his passing is evident.
Jimmie K. was a plain-spoken, honest man, who loved his family and exemplified the common slogan that greets visitors when they enter the city -- "You'll Love Linton".
There is no doubt that Jimmie K. loved Linton.
Jimmie K. also loved being mayor, politics and advocating on state and national level for the place he called home.
Jimmie K. was a frequent visitor in the halls of the state legislature in Indianapolis and the halls of Congress in Washington D.C. He was there pitching ideas and attempting to get support for projects and programs to make Liinton, Greene County and southwestern Indiana a better place to live and raise a family.
That's what a publc servant does.
The former mayor was exceedingly loyal to his friends -- from both political parties.
Jimmie helped to guide the Greene County Party machine for 14 years as its chairman.
Yes, Jimmie K. Wright was 'Mr. Democrat' in this part of the state, but he didn't let his partisanship get in the way of progress for his hometown. His advice and blessing was sought by any local or state Democrat Party candidate who was making a serious bid for public office for many years.
Jimmie was a gem of a guy and a newspaperman's dream to interview.
With Jimmie, when you asked him a question, you always got an answer -- sometimes a very honest answer that wasn't necessarily politcally correct. Nonetheless, with Jimmie K. you always knew where he stood and it was pretty easy to know where you stood with hiim.
I remember one of my last "official" interviews with Jimmie K. was on the afternoon of the May 2003 Primary election. We sat on a picnic table in Humphrey's Park and talked about the voting.
Jimmie K. was upbeat and hopeful, but in his comments there was a tone of disappointment. He knew the votes weren't going to be there to give him a chance for his reelection to a sixth term and it hurt.
You could see it in his eyes -- despite his ever-present smile. Jimmie knew the votes were not going to be there.
When the votes were tallied his party challenger Tom Jones defeated him 1,015 to 834.
It wasn't his first political defeat. He last lost in an earlier Primary Election to A.M. "Slim" Risher in 1971.
I will never forget running into Jimmie K. years ago at the Indiana State House. I had been there to interview Speaker of the House John Gregg. As I exited Gregg's office, there stood Jimmie K.
We exchanged greetings and he asked me if I wanted to go down and talk with Gov. Frank O'Bannon.
I replied that I didn't have an appointment.
Jimmie laughed and said,"Come with me,.You don't need an appointment."
As we walked into the reception area of governor's office we were greeted by a secretary and Jimmie quickly identified himself as Jim Wright from Linton and told her that he wanted to speak to "Frank now."
She picked up the phone and were were quickly given permission to go on back to the governor's chambers.
As we walked into the room, O'Bannon stood up and replied, "Jimmie, what's wrong."
The former mayor laughed and replied," Nothing Frank, I just wanted to meet this newspaperman."
That was a special moment for me.
How many other people do you know who could walk into the governor's office without an appointment?
Jimmie K. was always gracious to me every time I saw him.
Wright told me that helping somebody who needed help was always one of his biggest satisfactions when he was mayor.
As he is laid to rest, let everyone realize that Jimmie K. Wright helped a lot of people as a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, as mayor, political party leader, a businessman and friend to the city of Linton, Greene County and state of Indiana.
His sense of humor, quick wit and gruffty laugh were special.
My parting words to this great public servant came from his own mouth on the day he lost the primary election more than four years ago.
He told me, "We had a good run, didn't we?"
No one could question that. Jimmie K. Wright indeed had a very good run for the citizens of Linton and Greene County.
He was a leader, who sometimes was controversial. But, he was a non-bashful 'tell it like it is' advocate for the citizens who elected him to office.
Now, it's time for all of us to say 'thank you' to Jimmie K.
For Christians, it's also a time of celebration, knowing we will see our husband, father grandfather, great-grandfather, good friend and public servant Jimmie K. again when our time on earth ends.
It's not time to say good-bye to Jimmie K. as he pastor The Rev. Doug Cassel pointed out during his funreral service on Monday.
It's time to say, we'll see you again.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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