Memorial service held for John Jay Hooker

Excerpts from The Tennessean’s report on a memorial service held Saturday at the Nashville Public Library for the late John Jay Hooker:

“John Jay Hooker was a man of many pearls, and you all are the pearls,” John Blount Hooker said to the hundreds who gathered to remember his father. “Look at each other, cherish each other, because you are the pearls.”

…Former governors Lamar Alexander, now a U.S. senator, and Winfield Dunn, and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper mingled in the crowd. Mayor Megan Barry and former mayors Karl Dean and Bill Purcell also attended.

Dunn, who bested Hooker in the 1970 gubernatorial election and considered him a friend, recalled Hooker’s stories: No matter how many times he told them, they were always the same, and always accurate.

“He was one of the most eloquent and most sincere men I’ve known,” Dunn said.

Hooker loved to talk about his famous friends, especially the Kennedys, said Larry Woods, a Nashville lawyer. Hooker worked for and counted Bobby Kennedy a close friend. Woods worked on Hooker’s first campaign for governor in 1966.

“He talked about those folks like I talk about my neighbor,” Woods said with a fond smile.

…Kendall Hooker Hinote, Hooker’s daughter, said she considered making just one simple statement: “I am grateful for his life.”

“But I am my father’s daughter, and he did love the English language,” she continued, drawing a laugh. Hooker’s friends recorded their own stories about him in the library’s recording rooms and jotted memories on legal pads.

“In summation of this closing argument, all we can think to say is we are grateful for his life, and we are grateful you shared yours with him,” Hinote said. “And so in the words he was using more than any in his last days, and he said it with such his whole self, and when he got sick I think he started saying it more than ever, and those simple words were just: Thank you.”