James Virgil Kidwell is shown in this photo from 2014 courtesy of Kenny Baird.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Over the years, there were elections where Virgil Kidwell was running for two offices at the same time. The perennial candidate, who despite being popular and well liked yet never elected to public office, died on Thursday.

Kidwell ran for La Follette City Council in the 1990s and was nearly elected that first time out. The late Fred Hatmaker, always in tune with local politics, said if that election had been held a week earlier, Kidwell would have won.

He took on the likes of veteran state representative Dennis Powers to long time school board member Faye Heatherly. Though being elected always eluded Kidwell.

He was a regular at Katie’s Restaurant generally striking up a conversation with Kenny Baird or the late Howard St. John and others. Kidwell was a favorite of Baird’s, the LUB general manager, and was often on the other end of Baird’s wit and gentle ribbing.

“Virgil once told me that he was really for me when he ran against me, but he wanted to be on the ballot in case I died before the election, and then he would be the nominee. That’s not how it works, but he thought it did. He was a character and a good guy. We laughed a lot together. It is very sad to hear that he has passed,” said Powers.

Kidwell even had a weekly broadcast of preaching and singing on WLAF-TV 12. Whether it was behind the mic, on camera or in person, Kidwell was a people person. He was not shy about approaching anyone and pausing for a visit.

A private gathering, yet to be scheduled, will be held at Locust Stump Cemetery at Big Fork Mountain. Walters Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

James Virgil Kidwell was 70-years- old. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/22/2021-6AM)