By Carolyn Bahm
People who knew Tennessee Rep. Ron Lollar describe him as a proud Marine, good family man, dedicated church member and a notable statesman. The longtime Republican state representative died of an apparent heart attack in his sleep early on Friday.
He was 69 and a little over a month away from his 70th birthday. He is survived by his wife Brenda and three children. Services have yet to be announced.
Friends, colleagues and community leaders who knew him well shared their emotions and fond memories Friday.
Pastor Danny Sinquefield of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett spoke briefly about Lollar, who was a 25-year member and one of the church’s founders. Lollar served as a deacon, was an active member of the choir and was involved in the men’s ministry.
“Ron loved his family, his church, and his community,” Sinquefield said. “He loved serving the people of District 99 and was passionate about his love for our country. He was a man of strong conservative convictions and was a proud veteran of the Vietnam War, having served as a United States Marine.
“Ron was a leader, both in our church and in our community. He will be greatly missed by his family, his friends, and his colleagues. The family appreciates the prayers being offered as they make arrangements for his memorial service in the next couple of days.”
Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald, who has known Lollar for 15-20 years, described him as a longtime Bartlett resident who raised his family here. McDonald also called him a poised representative who was interested in how things would affect the people of Bartlett, Lakeland and Arlington.
“We’ve lost a great statesman,” McDonald said.
He and Lollar were in constant contact when the House was in session, and they spoke at least weekly when it was not so both could stay abreast of news.
McDonald recalled, “He was plain-spoken, kind of like how people say this about me, it’s probably true that you don’t really have to worry about where he stands, because he’ll let you know. Which made for a great relationship between us, you know. We just said what had to be said, and we were okay with that and tried not to get our feelings hurt on the few occasions we didn’t agree. We just got past that and moved on. Other people hold onto those kinds of things for a while. He didn’t do that. He just moved on with the next item.”
State Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) said, “It’s a sad day for all of us. A tremendous loss of a wonderful man. He was a devoted father and husband and a dedicated public servant. He was also a great outdoorsman. A Marine to the end, he was a Vietnam veteran and a former White House Guard. He was irascible at times but never irreverent. He was my friend.”
U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN 8th District) said, “Roberta and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a great public servant and friend, Ron Lollar. For years, Ron was dedicated to serving our community in Memphis and across West Tennessee.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland also mentioned his shock and sadness when learning about Lollar’s death, adding, “He was a strong advocate for Shelby County and for education, and I’ll miss his friendship and his sense of humor.”
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. expressed deep sympathies for the Lollar family and said, “Whether in Nashville or back home in Shelby County, Ron was always someone you could count on for help. He was truly a gentleman, a statesman and someone I was proud to call a friend. He will be deeply missed.”
Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker also spoke of Lollar with admiration. ”Ron was a great father, friend and representative. Lakeland mourns his loss, and our prayers are with the Lollar family.”
John P. Threadgill, president of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, described Lollar as a dear friend of the Bartlett Chamber and a passionate supporter of the community.
“Ron was always there for us whether it be personal or business,” Threadgill said. “He understood the importance of working together to achieve a common goal and never hesitated to ask for input and opinions. A strong advocate for education, Ron worked tirelessly for quality schools across the state. He was a true statesman in every sense of the word, always putting his constituents first.”
Threadgill continued, “We will definitely miss our friend and champion, Ron Lollar. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
At the time of his death, Lollar was running unopposed in the Aug. 2 Republican primary for reelection to his District 99 seat, which represented Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland and Millington.
Dave Cambron, his sole Democratic opponent for the Nov. 5 state and federal general election, is among those who offered their condolences Friday
“Like everyone in Tennessee, I was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Representative Ron Lollar,” he said. “He worked tirelessly for the citizens in District 99 and Shelby County. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. I am pausing my campaign activities for the time being out of respect for his service.”
The Shelby County Republican Party expects to announce its plans for the upcoming election sometime today, according to a spokesman. Presumably, the party will name a replacement candidate.
By Carolyn Bahm