The one thing that everyone talks about when commenting on the life of Jim Clemmer is his love of Tampa.
Everyone agrees that after Clemmer became mayor in 1991, he gave himself wholeheartedly to the development and improvement of the town.
According to his wife, Mary, he was out the door every morning at 8 a.m. After stopping at the local café for a cup of coffee, he spent the remainder of the day at the city office.
Clemmer died Nov. 2 after suffering complications from a bout with meningitis. He was 81.
Clemmer’s death has townsfolk wondering how they will replace him.
“It will take three or four people to do all the things he did,” Carole Spohn said, leader of Tampa Community Association.
Soon after the Clemmers moved to Tampa in 1980, Jim became involved in city government. After being elected mayor, he took an active part in Marion County Economic Development Council.
“Jim was very faithful in attending council meetings,” said Director Teresa Huffman.
Through the council, he learned about grants that were available for small-town improvements.
“He saw the possibilities for Tampa,” Spohn said. “He had a drive to get out and do things other people wouldn’t do.”
With the use of a professional grant writer, the town was successful in receiving funds to refurbish and demolish houses, renovate the former Catholic Hall for a senior center, construct two residential duplexes, and install a storm siren.
In 1997, Clemmer was successful in collecting more than $2,000 in donations to create and erect an attractive sign along K-15 highway inviting travelers to visit “the other Tampa.”
Clemmer also oversaw a rebuilding of city streets.
More recently, the town received a grant to rebuild its sewer lagoons, a project that is still underway.
At the time of Clemmer’s death, grants were being written for improvements at the park and ball diamond, and progress was being made toward establishment of a Tampa foundation.
Spohn said the mayor did many little things as well, like posting signs, supplying concessions at the ballfield, and buying supplies for the senior center. The Clemmers regularly attended local ballgames.
Huffman said she often accompanied Clemmer to meetings of Flint Hills Resource Conservation and Development Council, of which Jim was a member. This entailed trips to Emporia and other places outside the county.
“He was fun to talk to,” she said. “He was a great champion of Tampa and always had a positive attitude. All of our conversations were about Tampa.”
She said she often called and bounced ideas off him.
“Tampa has lost a champion for their community, and I’ve lost a really good friend,” she concluded.
Jim and Mary were high school sweethearts. They were married almost 63 years ago on Nov. 19, 1946. Their union produced four sons, seven grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Friends and relatives gathered Saturday for a memorial service for Clemmer at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Lincolnville.
An obituary is published elsewhere.