Naplate Mayor Jim Rick’s office was wherever the public needed it to be.
Rick, known by some as Mayor or even “Jocko,” passed away at age 59. A lone bouquet was placed on a park bench outside Village Hall and the flag was brought down to half-staff Monday.
Rick could just as easily be reached behind a desk as he could behind the wheel of his truck.
“I chuckle a bit, because he had two offices,” Village Clerk Gerry Kammerer said with a laugh. “He had an office at Village Hall and he had a mobile office in his truck.”
The name stuck for many including Fire Chief John Nevins.
Nevins grew up with Rick and joined the fire department in 1977, a year after Rick did. He recalled the fire department being a point of pride for the mayor.
“He was always concerned about making sure the fire department did its job to help the people in any way we could,” Nevins said. “That’s the way he wanted it operated and that’s the way we still operate it. That’s the way we do things in Naplate.”
Nevins also said Rick wasn’t afraid to make the tough decisions, which occasionally meant siding against friends.
Ludwig said he was proud to consider himself a good friend of Rick’s, but admitted the two had heated arguments during village board meetings.
“We had more than a few sessions where we called each other a few names when arguing back and forth,” Ludwig said. “One thing is at the end of our argument or discussions we would take our votes and no matter how it would turn out we would move forward.
“There was never a board meeting where after one of those discussions we couldn’t walk across the street and have a beer together,” he added.
Ludwig said he believed that many never got to see the “true” Rick. He acknowledged Rick came across to some as a “mean, rough and tough guy,” but there was a compassionate side the mayor kept hidden from some.
Ludwig specifically mentioned his volunteer and fundraising efforts as well as Rick’s purchase of a bike for a man from another community who rode around collecting beer can tabs as a testament to the mayor's true compassionate nature.
Despite their occasional disagreements, Ludwig said he admired Rick's work ethic and felt there was no one in the village better suited for the role.
“There’s nobody I would want to be mayor more than him, because he bled for that village,” Ludwig said. “It was his life and it was one of the more important things in the world to him.”