Max Wilkes was a good guy. Really good. One of the best I ever met.
Like many folks on both sides of the Chattahoochee River, I mourn Max's untimely passing.
He always greeted you with a smile, firm handshake and kind word.
Any room or space Max entered instantly became brighter. We all know people who suck the oxygen out of a room. Max brought the oxygen with him.
If you had a problem with Max, you should probably take a good look in the mirror because that is where the core of the problem likely reflected.
He was a Hall of Fame softball umpire and good high school official. He was the booking agent for Phenix City football officials for almost a quarter of a century. Anyone who knows anything about high school coaches and the men who officiate their games knows the balancing act that job entails.
"I really kind of hated for Max to call my games because I like to get on the referees a little bit, but I found that hard to do with Max," said Central High basketball coach Bobby Wright.
And Wright knows how to work an official.
Max also ran the Phenix City Municipal Clerk's office with efficiency and courtesy. He served the city with class and dignity.
That was Max, class all the way.
I say all of that to say this: Max was one of the worst politicians I ever met.
For the last four years, he served on the Phenix City Council. Arguably, this has been the most dysfunctional term in the city's history.
You can't lay the blame for that at Max's feet. There was a three-vote bloc that controlled the city. Max was not part of the bloc. Most of the time, he was on the outside looking in. But when the voters of Phenix City threw the bloc that consisted of councilmembers Jimmy Wetzel, Michelle Walker and Arthur Sumbry, they threw Max out too.
It was a lot like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Max ran for mayor and was soundly defeated in August by incoming Mayor Eddie Lowe. In a four-person race, Lowe won it without a runoff and Max was a distant second.
All of that is history -- and matters little in the wake of Max's sudden death.
But here is one man's take on all of it: Max was too good of a guy to be an effective politician.
He had some political skills because you don't work in city government or stand in the gap between football coaches and fellow officials without understanding politics.
But at the end of the day, Max was no match for Phenix City politicians.
And that says more positive about Max than it says about anyone else for one simple reason: Max Wilkes was just too good a man to be a Phenix City politician.
The people in Phenix City are going to miss him greatly. There is a little less sunshine on the west bank today. And everyone is this community is a loser because of that.
Rest well, my friend.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, email@example.com.