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Louisville Council President Jim King Was a Diligent, Behind-the-Scenes Leader, Colleagues Say

Louisville Metro Councilman David James stood outside Metro Hall on Thursday morning, tears running down his cheeks as he remembered working with the Metro Council President Jim King.

James recalled King's commitment to Louisville.

“It was not unusual at all to get a text message from Jim at three o’clock in the morning saying, ‘Hey what do you think about this, let’s try this, let’s work on it first thing in the morning,” he said.

That's the same energetic attitude that Councilman Kelly Downard recalls King having when they first met in the early 1970s. King was interviewing for a job at an accounting firm.

“He was aggressive, smart and hardworking," Downard said. "He was ready to get out and get it done, he’s always been that way.”

King died Wednesday night. He was 63.

"This is still a little surreal for all of us," Mayor Greg Fischer said at a ceremony Thursday.  "Jim was always just right in the middle of everything that we had going on, sometimes publicly, but oftentimes behind the scenes, just worried about the best result and not really caring who got the credit.

"And that ultimately is the sign of a great leader."

King grew up in the St. Joseph neighborhood and was president of King Southern Bank. He was first elected to the council's District 10 seat, which includes Buechel and Germantown, in 2004, and was first elected council president in 2008.

Through his public career, Kingat times foundhimselfat the center of controversies. One of his constituents was quicker Thursday to recall King's commitment to the district.

Mike Morris, president of the Schnitzelburg Neighborhood Association and a District 10 constituent, said King was “a fantastic supporter of our neighborhood.”

“We couldn't ask for more from him as a leader—that’s what he was,” Morris said.

He said King worked closely in he District 10 neighborhood associations on projects like the Goss Avenue Beautification Project.

“I think he had a soft spot in his heart for Germantown and Schnitzelburg,” Morris said. “We were always very proud to say he was our leader and our council person.”

“We couldn't ask for more from him as a leader—that’s what he was." — Mike Morris

Morris said he was aware that King was suffering from an illness, but the news of his death came as a “shock.”

Lisa Franklin Gray had been King’s legislative assistant since 2011. She said it was “a pleasure” to work alongside King on council matters.

“He was always a go-getter,” she said.  “He loved the community.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.