Friends remember former alderman

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Former Natchez Alderman Paul O’Malley, who died Tuesday at the age of 75, is being remembered as someone who spoke his mind &045; even when it came to taking on street crime.

One notable example is that O’Malley started the &uot;Turn in a Pusher&uot; program after his son, who had had a drug problem, committed suicide, said Tony Byrne, who was mayor when O’Malley was an alderman.

That program later evolved into the Crimestoppers program, which continues today.

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O’Malley was instrumental in starting programs to revitalize neighborhoods and actively supported such community events as the Minorville Jubilee, said Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West.

&uot;When we first started, he’d be out there blowing up helium balloons for all the kids, and when we started the parade he’d be there passing out candy to all the children,&uot; West said.

O’Malley also hired many local teens at his geology business, showing them the ropes, including West’s own son. But it was more than that, West said &045; O’Malley also saw it as a chance to mentor them &uot;and take them under his wing.&uot;

But West actually got to know O’Malley much earlier, when O’Malley served on the Board of Aldermen with West’s father, George F. West Sr. He remembered that O’Malley, along with Byrne, went out of their way to make his father &uot;feel like he belonged there&uot; even during tough racial times.

&uot;He was a tremendous man, a likable man, and he never met a stranger,&uot; West said. &uot;He would tell you exactly what he thought, though, positive or negative &045; but then he was through with that.&uot;

Hall Wilson, who served as alderman with O’Malley, agreed.

&uot;That’s not a criticism, though,&uot; Wilson said, referring to his mentioning O’Malley’s sometimes blunt manner. &uot;There’s a lot of value in that. I was really fond of Paul. He was honest, he was enthusiastic, and he worked hard.&uot;

O’Malley’s passion often spilled out into aldermen meetings, where he could &uot;get on his soapbox&uot; about issues &045; so much so that a timepiece was installed on the council chambers wall across from the aldermen and dubbed &uot;the O’Malley Clock.&uot;

But that was just Paul, Byrne said, adding that he admired the man ever since O’Malley coached him on the playground when Byrne was a young boy.

&uot;He was our hero,&uot; Byrne said.

O’Malley also served as chairman of the Police Committee, Civil Service Commissioner, Chairman of the Natchez-Adams County Industrial Foundation, Commissioner of Adams County Airport and started Mayor’s War on Drugs.

Memorial services for O’Malley will be held 10 a.m. Friday at St. Mary Basilica with the Rev. David O’Connor officiating.