‘Mayor Pete’ statue unveiled


By Aimee Hancock

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TROY — A statue of former city of Troy Mayor Peter “Pete” E. Jenkins was unveiled Friday morning during a ceremony to honor his legacy at the Jenkins Gateway and Mayors Plaza, located at the corner of West Main Street and North Weston Road in Troy.

A lifelong resident of Troy, Jenkins was active in local government, beginning when he was elected to serve as city councilman from 1978 to 1982. Jenkins served as president of the Troy City Council from 1983 to 1992 and as mayor of Troy from 1992 to 2003. According to family, friends, and associates of Jenkins, he was an advocate and active supporter of the city of Troy up to his death in 2018 at the age of 84.

According to Commissioner Ted Mercer, the idea to honor Jenkins with a sculpture came to him soon after the former-mayor’s death, and the idea was immediately well-supported.

“Everyone I talked to agreed that Mayor Pete was a man who made a difference to many people in the city of Troy,” Mercer said. “(Jenkins) already had this Mayors Plaza named after him, so why not a statue to honor him?”

The permanent, life-size sculpture, which cost around $82,000 in total, according to Mercer, was made possible through a number of private donations, as well as the Acorn Society, Bakehouse Bread, Elks BPOE 833, F&P Manufacturing, Excellence in Dentistry, Galbreath Realty, Jim’s Towing and Recovery, the Paul G. Duke Foundation, the Robinson Fund, Turnstone Financial and the Troy Foundation. Dalton Concrete Construction and Ernst Concrete donated installation and materials for the concrete base of the sculpture. Many of these donors, along with several members of Jenkins’ family, were in attendance during Friday’s unveiling ceremony.

Miami County Board of Commissioners President Greg Simmons provided an opening prayer, and the National Anthem was performed by Sheryl Queen. Troy City Councilman Todd Severt and former-Heywood Elementary School Principal Cardiff Hall both spoke briefly to share memories of Jenkins and to articulate the impact he had on those he met and worked with.

Hall said he met Jenkins in 1967 when he offered him a job on the spot at Hobart Brothers Company, where Jenkins worked for 31 years as the director of human resources. Hall worked for the company until he transitioned into the Troy City School system.

“Even though I left the factory, Pete was always in touch with me,” Hall said. “We would see each other in town, shake hands, he would ask me how I was doing, and we’d exchange thoughts.

“I tried to find words—adjectives—to describe this man, and I have found some,” Hall continued. “Pete was a good man … he is, in my opinion, a man of unselfish attitude. He’s honorable; he’s patient. He’s insightful, he is humble, he is trustworthy. He is a man of integrity. And although my time at Hobart was short … he never (forgot) me in the same way I will never forget him.”

Severt shared Hall’s notion of Jenkins being an unforgettable member of the Troy community.

“There are few people in this world who are instantly recognized by simply stating their first name: Elvis, Madonna, and in our home town by the river, Pete,” Severt said. “Simply mention the name Pete to anyone who had the privilege of knowing Pete Jenkins and the image and memory of ‘Mayor Pete’ comes immediately to mind.”

Severt made note of a memory, no doubt shared by countless residents of Troy, involving Jenkins distributing Troy, Ohio lapel pins wherever he went.

“I’m sure many of you have one or two, or maybe even a dozen, pins still in your possession,” Severt said. “Pete made Troy a better place. Yes, because he was mayor, but mainly because he was a Trojan that cared about the lives and the quality of life of his fellow Trojans and the community at large.

“As we leave here today, let’s all try to spread a little more kindness wherever we go,” Severt said in closing. “Let’s live by the two simple words that embody a larger-than-life legacy; let’s all strive to ‘be kind’ in honor of this man, simply known as Pete.”

Jenkins’ wife Ruth also spoke briefly, thanking those in attendance and all responsible for making the sculpture project a reality, including the sculptor, artist Mike Major.

“Pete would be so humbled and surprised to be honored in this way,” she said.

Following the statue’s unveiling by Major and the Jenkins family, a luncheon was held at Hobart Arena in honor of Mayor Jenkins.

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