August 18, 1998
Bud Hollingsworth came to Perry more than 30 years ago as a dapper young insurance salesman with the Donahue-Mugler Agency. His office was just a couple of doors up the street from The Perry Daily Journal where I toiled, and we soon became coffee-drinking friends. He joined Rotary and there again we made regular contact once a week. In a few years, he took a sales position with the Charles Machine Works, Inc., as a district representative, or "D-R" as they were usually known, and that required a great deal of traveling, so our association waned.
In the spring of 1969 I also became a happy member of the Ditch Witch staff, and by that time Bud had become advertising manager. My job involved working with Bud on a variety of projects so we were able to resume our friendship. Early that fall he and I shared the front seat of a pickup truck loaded with equipment for a gigantic outdoor trade show in the Chicago area, and that really brought us close together. Driving all those miles to Illinois and bark to Perry, I learned that he shared my passion for Big Band music. We spent many hours of travel time recalling the names of band leaders, vocalists, star sidemen, theme songs and other trivia related to the musical era we loved so much. Through the years he has given me dozens of classic LPs and cassette tapes which I have treasured and added to my own collection. Bass fishing was perhaps the only thing that meant so much to him as the Big Band sounds.
Bud taught me a lot of things, including the importance of being organized and being on time for appointments. That's not to say that either of us perfected the techniques, but I am familiar with some of the disasters that can be encountered by the failure to take care of certain details in an orderly way. We had a lot of discussions about that.
Bud retired from CMW a few years before I did and that made it possible for him to indulge in some of the fun things he enjoyed the most. Then no one was more surprised than I when he filed for the mayor's job. He often made remarks about what he wished the city government would do concerning certain projects, but I always thought that was just conversation. When he won the election the first time, I wished him well, never dreaming he would take to the post so readily. But he set about fixing some things and instilling pride and a family feeling into the people who serve the rest of us almost anonymously. I would venture to say he has been one of the best mayors this city has ever had.
Those who differed with Bud on specific issues nipped at him through the years, but Bud managed to keep his sense of humor and shrug them off while keeping his focus on finding solutions. He avoided getting into a shouting match with the opposition. The recent corn plant failure was a major disappointment and the water situation continues to baffle all of us, but Bud has been slugging away at those problems along with others you and I don't even know about. The stress was obvious, if unspoken.
His recent bout with major health problems just seemed to mushroom overnight. He had successfully battled some of them before and it appeared that he was fit for more jousting with the problems of Perry's city government. Somehow I feel Bud was long overdue for a respite from the cares that he once seemed to thrive on.
Bud's family was precious to him. He lost Marcy a few years ago and with her went much of life's sweetness. In due time he met Gwen and the two of them were able to fashion a refreshing new start, and the quest for fulfillment returned. Bud was proud of his son, the tough-as-nails Jay, a two time state wrestling champion, and his comely daughter, Becky, a former PHS wrestling queen. Grandchildren, of course, were an extra special bonus. He was a Bible scholar and faithful in church attendance.
Bud never did find the time to do as much bass fishing as he would have liked, there were still some Big Band CDs on his wish list, and the city has some pressing problems that he'd like to deal with, but he needed a change. Time has a way of slowing us down to a reasonable pace when necessary. We'll miss Bud Hollingsworth in this community, and our sympathy goes out to all of his family.