My (Small) Tribute to Jim King

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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Ever since Jim King’s death, numerous tributes and retrospectives have been written and spoken. I cannot, and do not hope to, match any of those for either depth or eloquence. I did wish, however, to share a small tribute from my own experience with Jim.

I did not know Jim King well. In fact, it is fair to say that I did not know him at all, in terms of regular interactions with him. But, there were three times that he stepped into my life in some way, and I would like to share those, as I think they say something about the man.

  • He was asked to address the Metro Democratic Club when elected to lead Metro Council, and he came and answered every question asked. He certainly didn’t have to do this. He surely was busy, and he wasn’t a member of the club nor a regular attender. But he came when asked, and that meant a lot to our club.
  • He listened to my ideas for the Louisville Orchestra. During the strike, I heard he was trying to get the two sides back to the table and get the impasse resolved. I had some fairly out-there ideas of what should be done, so I called him. Not only did he return my call, he listened to my ideas with respect and interest — even though I suspect he thought they were, as I said, way too far out-there. You wouldn’t have known it from our conversation, though — and I always appreciated that.
  • He supported my campaign, when some elected officials did not. When you are campaigning for public office, one of the hardest things to learn to do is to ask people for money. I learned to do it, and wound up asking every elected Democratic official in town for support. Some gave it gladly and quickly when asked, some had to be reminded, and some never supported me at all. Jim was in the first group: as soon as I contacted him, he pledge his support, and followed it up with a donation that was bigger than it probably had to be. Was he just being altruistic? Of course not; I’m sure he would have loved to have seen that seat flipped, and I knew that was part of his motive. But, he didn’t have to do it, and I appreciated that when some fellow Dems found it hard to write that check, Jim was ready and willing. When you’re campaigning, those things matter.

So, those are my three Jim King remembrances. Nothing earth-shaking, and nothing especially big. But each of them meant something to me, and each showed me another side of a man that I wish I had had the chance to know better.

Goodbye, Jim King. Thanks for all you did, and for all your years of service. This city, and I, will miss you.

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