Former councilman, businessman and publisher's uncle passes away

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LOUISVILLE - Magoffin is mourning the loss of former city councilman and instrumental Kiwanis member, James “Jim” Mortimer III, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 81.

Mortimer, was born in Royalton on October 19, 1936, went to elementary school in Salyersville, living with his grandparents, Farris and Cindy Mortimer, while his parents, Frieda and Henry, were working away during the war.

“He said that was a great time in his life,” his daughter, Susan Mortimer-Adams said.

He started at Salyersville High School but his parents wanted a broader education for him, so they sent him to Castle Heights Military Academy, which he graduated from at the age of 14. Mortimer continued his education at the University of Kentucky, but after a year left and went to work with his father in New Martinsville, where he met his wife, Margaret June Mortimer.

After getting married in 1958, he went back to Lexington and re-enrolled in UK, receiving his bachelor’s degree in education. 

Mortimer served in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, then joined the National Guard, where he retired with the highest non-commissioned rank possible, as a command sergeant major. 

From 1974 to 1975, he was the commander of the State Rifle Team for the National Guard, during which time he won the Kentucky Army National Guard State Competition, beating two world champions to win.

Mortimer had a passion for guns, growing up hunting rabbit and squirrel, then moving on up to deer hunting, which he would also take his children and grandchildren.

He worked for the ATF, was a student teacher, and was vice president of the Millersburg Military Academy. 

“Through his life of being a husband and father, his main focus was to make sure his family was taken care of,” his daughter said.

When they moved back to Salyersville, he was involved in many civic affairs.

In the 1990s Mortimer became a very instrumental member in the local Kiwanis organization, starting the Key Club at the Magoffin County High School and helping to write the current bylaws. Through the Kiwanis, he organized a political speaking event, and worked nearly every event. He served as the Kiwanis president and secretary during his time with the organization.

He worked with the local Boy Scouts troop and was on that board, as well.

Barb Patrick remembers, “Jim wanted everyone to act like ladies and gentlemen. He was a little stricter to make them be good men and women.”

About his civic involvement, his daughter, Susan, said, “He was always there to help anyone at any time, his honesty and great heart was evident by all, there was not one person who didn’t adore him, the young and old alike saw the amazing soul that he had.”

Mortimer was dedicated to the Christian Church, where he and his first wife, June, were baptized together and he remained an active member.

From 2010 to 2012 Mortimer served as a member of the Salyersville City Council. 

He was also one of the original business partners of Lee’s Famous Recipe, as well as one of the business partners of Salyersville Dairy Queen for nearly 30 years.

Mortimer had three children, Jeffrey (wife Shannon), Chris and Susan, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. After his wife’s passing in 2011, he married Gail Salyer King in 2013 and the two moved to Louisville. He had two step-children, Jeanie and John, and three step-grandchildren. 

His wife, Gail, noted, “4 ½ years of married bliss. Jim expanded his horizons with travel, eating out, and enjoying the warm, sunny days of Florida.”

Jim passed away at his home on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

“He had a great sense of humor, and his love for animals was evident,” his daughter, Susan, remembers. “His eyes would light up and his face beamed with a huge smile as he loved on his pugs. He said he wouldn’t take a million dollars for them.”

His daughter noted that one of his favorite poems was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, favorite book was “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and he loved listening to music. His favorite season was fall.

“This amazing man will be truly missed by all,” Susan said. “He left his mark in all of our hearts.”