By JUDY SHERIDAN
Parker County Public Information Officer Joel Kertok said he spoke with Treasurer Jim Thorp on Monday. If he knew it would be the last time he would see Thorp alive, he would have ended their conversation much differently.
“I’ve worked with Jim for 12 years,” he said. “If I’d known I’d never see him again, I would have given him a hug or something. It’s so shocking and sad to lose a friend and coworker.”
The 50-year-old Thorp died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on Tuesday. On his way to a lunch engagement, he reportedly walked into Tri Cities Urgent Care Clinic in Willow Park with chest pains and collapsed. He was transferred to Weatherford Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Thorp’s funeral services are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday at Aledo United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Oak and Pecan streets in Aledo.
Prompted by the sudden death, Parker County Commissioners met in emergency session Wednesday to authorize Chief Deputy Treasurer Dawn Norfleet to temporarily oversee operations until commissioners determine a long-term solution.
The court voted 4-0, with Commissioner Dusty Renfro absent, to authorize the chief deputy to sign any necessary documents and secure a temporary short-term bond, payable to the county judge. In addition, commissioners authorized the judge as a secondary signatory on any documents needed to continue operation of the treasurer’s office.
The emergency action was taken to “make sure there are no gaps in operation,” according to County Judge Mark Riley.
County Attorney John Forrest said the court’s authorization officially recognized the chief deputy’s “de facto” status as a signatory, ensuring that financial agencies would also do so.
While the county treasurer is elected, the chief deputy is appointed.
Thorp, who took office in January of 1995, completed half of his current four-year term Jan. 1, County Clerk Jeane Brunson said. Once that milestone passes, the county is not required to hold a special election to fill the vacancy, she said. Thorp’s current term expires in December 2014.
His wife, Zan, is a fourth-grade teacher at Stuard Elementary in the Aledo ISD.
“He was one of the sharpest individuals I’ve ever met,” Norfleet said, “and he was a heck of an investment officer. Anyone could throw out a question from the state, and he’d have the answer. He knew the statutes.”
Norfleet said Thorp loved the county and his job. He was an Aledo resident and a big supporter of Aledo ISD sports.
“He liked to cook and grill,” she said, “and he would cook all weekend and bring in pork loins and brisket. He made a stew every Halloween for county employees.”
Brunson, who described Thorp as a dear friend, said she met him as they campaigned together for office in 1994.
“He was a prankster,” she said, “My back door and the front door to his office were entirely too close. I never knew what was going to be sitting on my desk or chair.
“He was clever; he could keep a straight face. Then the corners of his mouth would turn up, and you’d know that you’d been had.”
Brunson said the thing she admired most about Thorp — and his wife — was their relationship.
“He absolutely loved his wife,” she said. “They were always together. My heart aches for her.”