Jim Jinkins

Shown, from left, are Dr. Shelba Bethel, local activitist Jim Jinkins and Ally Richardson. Jinkins, who is noted for a number of community contributions in Norman, died Tuesday from terminal cancer.

Norman resident Jim Jinkins — who many described as a Norman icon — died early Tuesday from terminal cancer.

Jinkins’ community contributions include fighting for a stand-alone senior center, founding the Senior Association of Norman and being highly involved in the Morning Star Spiritual Center, friends said.

“It’s so hard to put his relationship with people into a few words because the depth of his connection with people in this community is amazing,” said Ally Richardson, a longtime friend of Jinkins’. “... When I first met him, I felt like I had known him my entire life — he was just so easy and joyful to be around.”

Richardson said the biggest legacy Jinkins left in the City of Norman was his affection and care for other people, he never wanted someone to go without feeling love.

“He knew people from all walks of life,” she said. “He never judged. He was just welcoming and kind to everybody — he’s truly the kindest, most gentle man I’ve ever met.”

In early 2016, Jinkins also befriended state House Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, before Rosecrants ran for office.

Rosecrants met Jinkins in Norman during the big push for then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to become Oklahoma’s Democratic nominee for president.

“I just sat down and talked to him and he became a friend — he’s just, just a great guy,” Rosecrants said. “Not only that, but he was one of the biggest supporters of mine as I was going through that particular campaign and he was always at [my events] with that big smile on his face.”

Rosecrants described Jinkins as a “Norman icon,” and someone who left a positive impact on every single person he met.

“He is one of those personalities that you could tell was in a room because of that smile — it was an electric smile and you just knew he was in the room, and it was never anything negative that he’d say,” Rosecrants said. “He would sit down and talk to you, no matter if you knew him for an hour or forever — he really cared about what you were saying.”

Judith Coker, a longtime Norman resident and friend of Jinkins, described him as one of the most loyal friends she had ever had.

“He was just a remarkable person, a wonderful friend, and he will be sorely missed in Norman,” Coker said.

Norman resident and former Transcript editor Andy Rieger first met Jinkins when Rieger worked for The Transcript and Jinkins was a convenience shop clerk. The two would have interactions every time Rieger would come by to pick up the money from the previous day, Rieger said.

“He was always very friendly and he was very knowledgeable about Norman,” Rieger said. “He had a big heart for the community of Norman.”

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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