By BROOKE WANSER
Jack Douglas Walton, Jr., the chair of the Williamson County Commission, passed away on Sunday after battling protracted illness. He was 62.
Walton, a District 8 commissioner for 20 years and chair of the commission since 2010, was a 40-year resident of the Grassland community.
He leaves behind his wife of 36 years, Patricia (Feldhaus) Walton; daughter Amy (Matthew) Phillips, son Jack (Chloe) Walton, III, daughter Kellie (fiancé Matthew Benz) Walton; brother Michael (Adrian) Walton; and grandchildren Eli, Lucy and Wes (Phillips), and Harper and Graham (Walton).
He was preceded in death by parents Jack Walton, Sr., and Melba (Horner) Walton.
Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home, 3009 Columbia Ave., Franklin, with a vigil service at 7:30 p.m., and from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 14, at St. Matthew Church, 535 Sneed Road, Franklin, with funeral Mass to follow at 11 a.m.
Rev. Mark Sappenfield will serve as celebrant with Deacon Bill Forte as homilist. A committal service will immediately follow at Williamson Memorial Gardens in Franklin. Active Pallbearers; Bill Walton, Matthew Phillips, Matthew Benz, Paul Webb, Ben Bratcher and John Beard. Members of the Williamson County Government will serve as Honorary Pallbearers.
“He’s going to be a loss on the commission from the standpoint of his personality,” said District 12 Commissioner Steve Smith, who described Walton as, “friendly, genuine and helpful to everyone.”
“He had a statesman-type bearing to him that provided a lot to the commission,” Smith added.
“He was a very kind gentlemen, and had a great sense of humor,” said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, who served as a commissioner alongside Walton before being elected mayor in 2002.
Anderson said he spoke with Walton over the phone last week. “He was still talking about the budget and things to come, even though he wouldn’t be around to see them finished,” Anderson said.
“He constantly wanted to be a good person for our community and give back and make it a better place.”
Walton served as the chair of the law enforcement committee, and had a passion for the Planning Commission, Anderson added.
Walton’s parents founded Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry on Main Street, which still operates as a family business.
In addition to his service on the commission, Walton was a member of the Board of Trustees at Williamson Medical Center and served on the County Planning Commission.
“He helped support the hospital and make it grow,” Smith said. “He just really believed in Williamson County and the community, whatever he could do to make it better.”
“He was just really a gentle soul, and a pleasure to be around,” he said.
Matt Williams, who resigned as commissioner in District 10 to successfully run for the District 9 seat this year, called Walton “a calming force, levelheaded.”
“He had the trust of the people that he represented,” said Williams, whose father previously served on the commission with Walton.
Walton was the president of Mid-Tenn Rubber Stamp Co., Inc., with affiliate businesses in photography and videography. He also worked as a real estate broker.
In addition to his service in the community, Walton participated in a Vanderbilt research study that resulted in significantly slowing the progression of kidney disease. Because of his selfless involvement in this study, and the efforts of researcher Dr. Julia Lewis, patients throughout the world have greatly postponed their need for dialysis and kidney transplantation.
He attended Columbia Military Academy and Belmont University.
Anderson said Vice Chair and District 5 Commissioner Tommy Little, who has been serving as chair in Walton’s absence, will continue on as chair of the commission.
Walton announced his decision not to run for re-election to the commission in January. No commissioner will be appointed to serve with the other District 8 Commissioner, Barb Sturgeon, in the interim before this fall’s general election.
The race between Sturgeon, Republican Jerry Rainey and Democrat Kenneth Townsend will be decided this fall for the two District 8 seats.