Former Johnson City mayor remembered as 'one of a kind' advocate for children's health

David Floyd • Mar 11, 2020 at 7:28 PM

Like any good public servant, former Johnson City Mayor Jane Myron, who died in Franklin, Tennessee, Tuesday morning surrounded by family, made time for even her youngest constituents.

On one occasion, Mayor Jenny Brock remembers Myron received a letter from a parent whose young daughter was afraid the birds at Monte Vista Memorial Gardens would be hit by cars as they traveled across Oakland Avenue. Brock said Myron worked to get a sign put up that would warn motorists to keep an eye out for them.

“She was just one of a kind,” Brock said. “She went 90 miles an hour all the time any way.”

Around 2005, Brock, who had recently moved back to the city and had been paying attention to city politics, said she remembers seeing Myron’s campaign sign, a blue and green oval with the word “Jane” printed on the front.

“I thought, ‘Oh, a woman’s running for city commission,’” Brock said. “She had a little restaurant on Market Street, and I decided to go in and meet her and introduce myself.”

Myron, who operated the restaurant Jane’s Lunch Box and Black Tie Formal Wear, served as a city commissioner from 2005 to 2013 and Johnson City mayor between 2009 and 2011. Brock said one of Myron’s defining contributions was her effort to ensure health and fitness programs existed for children in Johnson City.

When Myron was first elected, Brock said national rankings had just come out showing that the state of Tennessee ranked 47th in the U.S. for health outcomes. Myron asked Brock, who has a background as an exercise physiologist, to put together a presentation to the City Commission to justify the creation of a local health initiative, particularly for the city’s kids.

Myron requested that the commission budget money for the program, and that’s when the Up & At ’Em movement, which is today a non-profit organization, got started. Organizers held a huge health fair with thousands of attendees, and Brock and Myron ultimately co-founded the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, which is still one of the organization’s flagship events.

During the first Turkey Trot event 14 years ago, Brock said organizers had planned about for less than 400 attendees but ended up seeing about 700 people show up to the event.

On a 25-degree morning on Thanksgiving Day, that was surprising turnout.

“We knew we were on to something when that happened,” she said. Participation has grown since that first event, and Brock estimated the 2019 race had more than 4,400 registered attendees.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, who Myron succeeded as mayor after Roe stepped down from the post in 2008, said it was an honor to serve on the City Commission with Myron.

“However, we were more than fellow commissioners; we were great friends,” Roe said. “Jane was a true public servant ... Jane has many friends, including me, who will grieve her passing but celebrate her life. Go rest high on that mountain, my friend.”

Former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden served with Myron on the city commission and said she was part of many decision that had a visible impact on the community, notably the downtown area and the city’s school facilities.

“Jane embraced Johnson City and along with her husband Jim was a major contributor to enhancing our quality of life,” he said.

Brock said she last saw Myron in mid-December, visiting her with City Manager Pete Peterson in Nashville. They took her a box of Turkey Trot shirts, sweatshirts and medallions and Brock showed her pictures from the event on her phone.

“She would’ve loved our new slogan, ‘Go All Out,’ because it just fit right along with her tempo,” Brock said. “The way she lived her life.”

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