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McWherter’s Memorial Service in Dresden

By Erik Schelzig
DRESDEN, Tenn. — Former Gov. Ned McWherter was remembered Sunday by the neighbors and voters who first elected him and sent him on his way to become one of the most powerful Democratic politicians in Tennessee.
A memorial for McWherter, who died April 4 at age 80, was held on the front lawn of his home in Dresden, just blocks away from where an inscription on a bronze statue of the West Tennessee political giant reads: “One of us.”
The services drew politicians, friends and supporters from around the region and state.
“He improved so many lives, and he touched my life,” said Joe Fisher, 73, of Alamo. “I got to meet him one time, and I’m going to miss him.”
Longtime adviser Billy Stair noted that McWherter’s political career was founded in his hometown experiences.
“He came from this community, from a time and a place that today echoes only faintly across the years,” he said. “A small town, where they set up bleachers outside the ice cream parlor over on East Main street to listen to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio.
“A time when where a future governor from this town dropped out of high school, and was convinced to go back by the mechanic at the local Pontiac dealership.”
A Great Depression-era child of sharecroppers, McWherter became wealthy through various business enterprises before entering politics. He was elected to his first of two terms as governor in 1986 after 20 years in the Legislature — and 14 as House speaker. He also was a political adviser to Bill Clinton during his presidency.

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