Those who knew Jay knew well his relentlessly upbeat persona, his love of people and his talent for making and nurturing friendships. Longtime friend Gary Bottoms, president of The Bottoms Group, described him this way:
“Jay wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings, and if he loved someone, which was common, he would tell them. He had a big infectious smile that matched his huge heart. He was an encourager and a helper. Helping his friends was a mission for him and he proudly called himself ‘The Doctor,’ often ending a conversation with, ‘I’ll take care of it,’ which he always found a way to do.”
Whorton grew up on a farm in rural Sand Mountain, Ala., and came of age just after World War II. Thanks to a sports scholarship, he was able to attend Jacksonville State University and later was named to its Sports Hall of Fame.
He came to Marietta in 1971 and made an immediate impact, due in large part to the force of his sunny personality.
“He jumped right into the middle of everything that was going on in the community,” recalls U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden.
And Whorton stayed in the middle of everything. He was a longtime member and chairman of the Marietta Housing Authority board, an avid member of the Marietta Rotary Club, a former member of the Board of Stewards at First United Methodist Church of Marietta and perhaps the most enthusiastic member ever of the North Georgia State Fair board. His favorite event of the Fair season was the night each fall on which the Fair was opened just for thousands of local special-needs residents.
He followed local politics closely, which was no surprise considering his occupation. And while he kept his personal politics pretty much to himself, he wasn’t above giving out good advice to political officials.
“He always told me to ‘Put the people before politics,’” recalled Marietta City Councilman Anthony Coleman.
Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee summed Whorton up well: “Jay was a man that was bigger than life in everything he did. He made everyone feel special and inspired a confidence that anything could be accomplished if we just put our mind to it.”
Whorton was indeed “bigger than life,” and he leaves behind a large legacy and an even larger number of friends who loved him and will cherish his memory.