By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Many will remember Jane Myron for her public service. Myron served on the Johnson City Board of Commissioners from 2005 until 2011, including a stint as the city’s mayor from 2009 through 2011.
But that public service was simply the continuation of years of private service to the community, an unrelenting string of selfless acts that more often than not took place without anyone else knowing. That caring heart is what current Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock believes Myron will ultimately be remembered for.
“There was this softness about her,” Brock said. “She loved Johnson City and loved the people of Johnson City, and I think they will remember that.”
Myron passed away last week in Franklin, Tennessee, surrounded by her family. In the wake of that loss, Myron’s friends back in Johnson City reflected on the tireless energy and proactive leadership style that allowed her to leave such a large, lasting impact on our community.
During her time on the commission, Myron was instrumental in securing funding for the Up & At ‘Em movement, which focused on improving the health of young children in our community. That organization paved the way for the Turkey Trot, which Myron and Brock worked to start 14 years ago.
Brock, who helped organize a Turkey Trot event in Dallas before moving to Johnson City, said she was confident the event would be a winner. Myron’s enthusiastic push helped ensure the inaugural event nearly doubled its expected turnout, and the Thanksgiving morning event was off and running. This past November, over 4,000 people participated in the 5K run.
“Jane was one that if she saw an opportunity, she said, ‘Let’s go after it,’ ” Brock recalled. She didn’t wait and sit back and let someone else do it – she led the assault. It was always a breath of fresh air to work with her, because we were always doing neat things.”
City Manager Pete Peterson also praised Myron as a forward-thinking leader who had the ability to bring complex plans to life for the benefit of the community.
“She was not a person to come up with an idea and expect someone else to implement it,” Peterson said. “Jane had the implementation steps in her mind long before she introduced the idea.”
Such was the case with one particular plan Myron helped bring to fruition during her time on the commission. Peterson recalled Myron’s efforts to relocate Science Hill’s football games to the school’s campus, which made room at the old Memorial Stadium site for a community center, which included a senior center. That allowed the city’s juvenile court, which was held in a facility Peterson described as “grossly inadequate” to move to the property that had been occupied by the old senior center.
When the plan was outlined, and several organizations received upgraded facilities without the city having to purchase any additional property, Peterson recalled Myron’s fellow commissioner Steve Darden saying, “We’ve killed five projects with one stone.”
“It was that kind of wise community reinvestment that ensured we kept the community moving forward,” Peterson said.
In her private life, Myron and her late husband Jim worked behind the scenes to ensure children in the school system who needed clothing and shoes got what they needed. Peterson recalled a coat drive Myron organized for city staff aimed at keeping kids warm in the winter, and remembered Myron going over and above to help her husband collect eyeglasses for the Lions Club, which Jim belonged to.
Myron and her husband owned Jane’s Lunch Box and Black Tie Formal Wear, and were involved with the Chamber of Commerce. But above all, Peterson remembers Myron as being a great friend. She was there to offer support when Peterson’s children were born, and also paid him a visit in the hospital prior to his heart surgery.
“I’ve missed Jane since she relocated to middle Tennessee,” Peterson said. “It’s certainly a big loss for our community, but she’s found the reward she worked a lifetime to get.”
Congressman Phil Roe, who served alongside Myron on the City Commission, will also remember her first and foremost as a friend.
“It was an honor to serve on the city commission with Jane Myron for several years,” Roe said in a statement. “However, we were more than fellow commissioners; we were great friends. Jane was a true public servant. “Jane has many friends, including me, who will grieve her passing but celebrate her life.”