05/13/10 — Former board member dies after April accident

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Former board member dies after April accident

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 13, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Former town commissioner Jimmy Kornegay is being remembered today as a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for people in need and as a dedicated public servant who remained interested in the town even though he no longer was on the town board. He was particularly known for his interest and support of the town's fire and police departments.

Kornegay, 68, died Wednesday at Wayne Memorial Hospital, where he had been a patient since April 6 following his rescue after a night lost in a wooded area west of town. He already was suffering from a variety of ailments, including diabetes.

Visitation will be Friday from 5 until 7 p.m. at Tyndall Funeral Home. Funeral will be 3 p.m. Saturday from the chapel of Tyndall Funeral Home to be followed by burial in Maplewood Cemetery.

"He was fire commissioner and he made sure (firefighters) had everything we possibly needed," said Mount Olive Fire Chief Steve Martin, who was part of last month's rescue effort. "We'd show him what we needed and what we hoped to accomplish and he would sink his teeth into it and not let go.

"He always wanted the best for us. He wanted to make sure we had the best equipment. He always recognized that we were volunteers. He said we deserved the best."

Kornegay was hospitalized after spending the night lying on the ground after he attempted to walk out of a wooded area west of town after his truck became stuck. Kornegay, who did not have his walker or cane with him, and whose cell phone did not work, tried to walk back to the road before he finally fell and rolled about 200 yards.

He had gone to the area off West Main Street Extension to look at a pond as a possible "fishing hole" for him and his grandchildren.

Kornegay was found just before 11 a.m. the next day.

Martin said he was glad he had been a witness to Kornegay's reunion with his family at the hospital.

Kornegay was initially treated for dehydration, fire ant bites and sunburn. His family had thought he might be released after only a few days in the hospital. However, his condition worsened, and he was moved to the intensive care unit.

He had been placed on a ventilator and was in a medically induced coma. He also suffered from pneumonia and a kidney infection.

"He was a good commissioner for the police department," said Mount Olive Police Chief Ralph Schroeder. "He did a lot of things for the department as far as equipment. He would have cookouts for the officers at least once a year.

"I hate that he passed. I hate it for the family. He was always interested in how the boys were and how he could help the department."

Town Manager Charles Brown said Kornegay, who served three terms as the District 4 commissioner, was on the board that hired him as town manager.

"I just hate it happened," Brown said. "I certainly hate it for him to have endured what he did in that field and then seem to be in such great spirits. I hate it for his family.

"Everybody is thinking about the family right now. He was certainly one of the most hands-on commissioners. He was interested and involved in the business of the town. He was really involved in what he was doing."

"He had a lot of sympathy for the police and their families because of their long hours," Mayor Ray McDonald said. "When he got on the board his first motion was to look at (police) salaries."

Kornegay also was concerned about perpetual care at the town's cemeteries and wanted to raise the fees (for the lots) and put the revenues into a trust fund to provide that care.

"He had a soft spot for people who had problems," McDonald said. "The last time that I talked to him before he got sick he had found out about a woman who died and there was no money to buy a lot." McDonald said Kornegay did not know the woman, but had worked to raise money to buy a burial lot.

"He put on a tough act, but he had a soft spot for people," McDonald said.