J.T. "Jake" McCord was a man who lived a simple life. He worked hard for about 40 years with the City of Thomson, helping keep the Camilla City of the South as clear and neat-looking as possible.
Mr. Jake, who had been in bad health for a number of years, passed away last week. He was 64.
He was a character and a half. But above all, Mr. Jake was an honorable, honest man and a very laid back man. He never complicated things in his life and he never wanted anyone else to complicate things for him. He liked life being simple.
One could easily describe Mr. Jake as a man who loved life and who enjoyed his work as a folk artist. His being a folk artist for many, many years is what made him one of Thomson's most famous residents.
Through the years, Mr. Jake sold many paintings -- not to just locals, but to people who lived out-of-state. They would hear about his work and drive to Thomson to purchase it. Some even brought him homemade cookies. He enjoyed fresh homemade cookies.
A little more than two years ago, I wrote a feature story about Mr. Jake, which appeared in The McDuffie Mirror. I had a very enjoyable time interviewing him on his front porch. He suggested we talk out there, saying he thought it would be cooler.
He talked about his burning passion for painting pictures. He truly loved what he did.
"I paint people on bicycles, cats and dogs," Mr. Jake said. "All of them is about my favorites. There ain't too much difference in them."
In the story, Mr. Jake talked about how much it meant to him to be honored with a framed proclamation from former Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Jr. for his 391/2 years of dedicated service to the city. The two were longtime friends.
Mr. Jake was described as "an institution" by the former mayor. Mr. Jake called the former mayor "a good boss."
Earlier this year, Mr. Jake's health worsened and he was taken to a nursing home. During that time, arrangements had been made to tear down his old wood-frame home on Railroad Street in Thomson. Several other homes and businesses also were included on the demolition list.
The homes and businesses were razed to make way for a planned city/county government center. Wood from Mr. Jake's porch was taken to the McDuffie Museum where it will be reconstructed and showcased in the main exhibit room with other works of local artists.
I will forever remember Mr. Jake -- not only as a fine artist, but as a friend.