The loss of Mayor Jim Nabors this week should affect every single person who lives in Alexander City and many who live outside our community.
During Jim’s funeral at First Baptist Church on Wednesday, I heard Dr. Gerald Hallmark call him a good man, a gracious man, a generous man and a gentleman.
Jim was all that and much, much more.
He was a complex man.
He was a tenderhearted man, a man who cared for those around him.
He was a man capable of issuing tough decisions and withering criticism.
Jim gave me one of the most memorable chewing-outs of my 35-year newspaper career after The Outlook spelled his family name “Neighbors” in two different wedding announcements. Decades later, I still flinch a little when I recall the telephone call. I flinch because I respected him and because he was right.
He was a financial master.
He was a family man.
He was a leader who got people to perform at the top of their game.
Most importantly, he was a man who did what he could do.
Nobody would call Jim a great public speaker. They probably wouldn’t even call him a good public speaker. He was kind of shy, a touch awkward, the opposite of a glad-handing politician.
Yet when Alexander City needed his financial skills in city hall, he responded and vastly improved our city government.
I was one in a group of people who encouraged Jim to run for mayor. I saw him worry over the decision, apparently flip-flopping several times as he weighed his retirement time, his family and health against a strong, deep-seated desire to serve our community. In the end, he chose candidacy.
He made it clear he was not a politician; he was not one to knock on doors and talk himself up.
Instead he let his reputation as the former chief financial officer at Russell Corp. and superintendent of Alexander City Schools do the talking for him. It is a testament to Jim’s reputation he won the mayor’s job by a landslide 73 percent with very little traditional campaigning.
Then he set about strengthening our city and upgrading our city government by leaps and bounds.
Jim didn’t come out of retirement because he needed to or because he needed the money — he chose to not take a salary as mayor — or because anybody urged him to do so. He came out of retirement because he knew he could straighten out our city government.
He chose to do what he could do.
In other words, he put the interests of others — all of us who live in Alexander City — ahead of his own. That’s the definition of a public servant.
He did the same thing working as superintendent of our schools, head of Russell Medical’s board of directors and elsewhere.
Most of us go to work because we have to. Jim went to work as mayor because he knew could make his town a better place and he felt it was his responsibility to do what he could.
There are precious few people like that in this world.
All of us who live in Alexander City will sorely miss having Jim Nabors as our mayor and our neighbor.
Kenneth Boone is chairman of Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.