Veteran Washington County commissioner Jarrett dies of cancer

Gary B. Gray • Apr 20, 2012 at 8:29 AM

Evert Jarrett, one of Washington County’s longest-serving commissioners, died early Thursday at Johnson City Medical Center of lung cancer. He was 77.

Alma, his wife of 55 years, clutched a white handkerchief in one hand as she was joined by family and friends on her front porch off Old State Route 34 in Limestone. The vantage point offered a perfect view of the old two-story farmhouse below in which she and her husband raised six children.

“He was a very good man, she said. “He loved the Lord, and he loved his family. I’m going to be lost.”

Jarrett, who served 28 years on the County Commission, was diagnosed with cancer in mid-February.

“We thought he might have pneumonia,” she said. “I could tell he wasn’t feeling well, but he would not complain. He walked himself into the hospital.”

Jarrett, who was described by family members as a hard-working, kind-hearted man, was born in Greene County on April 6, 1935. He was a farmer and sold and serviced Rainbow Vacuums throughout his tenure on the County Commission.

Five of his six children — four daughters and two sons — surrounded Alma Jarrett on the porch Thursday, while friends began filling up available parking spaces and walking up to the 15-year-old red brick home Jarrett had long ago promised his wife.

“He was a man of his word,” said daughter Sandra Clouse. “He enjoyed his time on the commission, and his main goal was just to help people. He made us all what we are, and we all hope that that means we’re good citizens. We would always ask him about running for a higher office, but he was content.”

Daughter Karen Collins echoed her sister’s thoughts.

“If somebody came by,” she said while pointing to the bottom of the hill, “if somebody stopped down at the drive right now and they needed $10, he would have given it to them,” she said.

Jarrett was sworn in on Aug. 27, 1978. He began his tenure as a county commissioner on Sept. 1 that year. He also had worked for the Sheriff’s Department and as a constable. One person he was very close to was former County Mayor George Jaynes.

“He was very well liked,” Jaynes said. “He and I worked together through the years on many issues. He always acted with dignity. Everybody loved Evert and his family.”

Jarrett also is survived by eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. One of those grandchildren is country music artist Trey Hensley, an act the entire family caught many times, including at the Grand Ole Opry.

The County Commission now will declare a vacancy and provide notice that a position is open. Candidates for Jarrett’s replacement will be placed on either the August county general election or November general election ballot, according to County Attorney John Rambo.

The family is planning a burial Saturday at Mount Wesley United Methodist Church in Telford’s Conklin community.

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