Longford mourns dedicated parish volunteer Jimmy Baxter who touched countless lives in a positive way

Late James Baxter, Battery Road and Mullagh, Longford Town, Longford

Longford Leader reporter

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Longford mourns dedicated parish volunteer Jimmy Baxter who touched countless lives in a positive way

The late James Baxter, Battery Road and Mullagh, Longford town, Longford

There was great sadness throughout Longford on Thursday, July 2 last when news broke of the death of James ‘Jimmy’ Baxter.

Throughout his life, Jimmy Baxter, who was a well known cattle dealer, a Peace Commissioner for 40 years, one of the founder members of Longford Social Services and a dedicated parish volunteer, touched countless lives in a positive way.

Jimmy, of Battery Road & Mullagh, Longford, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family, and as the funeral cortege left his residence on Saturday morning to arrive for Mass of the Resurrection in St Mel’s Cathedral, mourners lined the route and paid their respects to a man who will be remembered for his genuine desire to help others.

During his homily, Fr James MacKiernan outlined that the late Jimmy Baxter treated others with humility and love.

Every person is unique
“It was immaterial whether the person he encountered was young, elderly or middle aged, whether the person had no material goods or was wealthy, Jimmy believed every person had a worth, a value, an opinion, a perspective of life and that was because every person was unique, irrespective of religion, colour or creed.”

Fr MacKiernan said Jimmy was a man who listened and afforded people the opportunity to express themselves and he respected that opinion.

He described the deceased as a meticulous time keeper. “Whether it was transporting a load of cattle from Kerry, or at an appointment with the Superintendent or rostered to usher at the Cathedral there was never a lapse from regularity and punctuality.”

Never phased
Fr MacKiernan pointed out that in all of his commitments throughout his fulfilled life, Jimmy had the quality of durability. “He was never phased or daunted by competing commitments. Jimmy had an enthusiasm for life, and sought always to be responsive and obliging even if he found it difficult to accede to.”

Jimmy was a man of great faith, his faith was paramount and he always prayed in the morning before setting off to his day’s work.

Fr MacKiernan said it was this appreciation for his faith that helped to mould and sustain Jimmy every day of his life, especially in the final years and months as age and illness began to take hold.

He added, “Jimmy’s life was varied, as well as long, and he was committed and faithful to the workload that was entrusted to him. His commitment of over 40 years as a Peace Commissioner gained him huge respect for his honesty and integrity from the community and from the enforcers of law and order.

“He was a founding member of the very vital Social Services and was a stalwart of the parish bingo. His loyalty, his commitment to this cathedral, this parish was exemplary.

Touched countless lives
“Since Jimmy’s passing people have sent messages of appreciation for a life of dedicated and faithful service.”

Fr MacKiernan told mourners in the congregation and those watching on longfordparish.com that ‘throughout his life, Jimmy Baxter touched countless lives in positive ways that we cannot even begin to imagine’.

“He gave witness to those in need. He was the faithful minister to them without ever seeking gratitude or adulation, for the hours that he spent driving ambulances, collecting supplies for Sr Calasanctius, for delivering meals on wheels and for enabling social outlets for many through bingo.

Loyal to family and friends
“Without consideration for his own needs, without sitting in an office to write a to do list, Jimmy fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the sick, counselled the imprisoned, comforted the bereaved and welcomed the stranger.

“Jimmy treated others with respect. He was loyal to family and friends and was faithful to the many commitments he took on in his life, not only the life-long commitment he gave in marriage 58 years ago to Helen Carroll but as a father and a servant of the state.

“In all of his commitments he didn’t act in order to draw attention to himself, rather he did it out of wholehearted belief in the gospel, out of love of people and respect for the church, and a genuine desire to help others. May we all be inspired by his faithful dedication and service.”

Lovely Memories
Expressing sympathy on RIP.ie, Denis and Olive Glennon, said Jimmy was ‘always a most courteous person, a gentle man with an innate respect for others’.

Peter Burke from Ferbane remarked that Jimmy was ‘a noble man with a gentle, calming presence always’ and Sr Ursula Butter, Athlone said she had ‘lovely memories of Jimmy at the social services meetings of years ago’.

“I will always treasure my memories of time spent in his company - a real gentleman,” stated Margaret Groarke, while James and Marita MacNerney described Jimmy as ‘a true friend of Co Longford Historical Society’.

John & Mary Farrell wrote: “Jimmy was a true gentleman and I always enjoyed his stories of times past on the cattle lorries.”

The late Jimmy Baxter will be sadly missed and remembered with love by his family, his wife Helen, daughter Carol, son Fr Turlough, son-in-law Marc Caball, sister-in-law Betty, brothers-in-law Fr Anthony and Fr Gerard Carroll, cousins Brian Plunkett and Bridget Keenan, niece, nephews, relatives, devoted friends and neighbours.

May he Rest in Peace.