Last Updated: Mar 31st, 2014 - 14:20:42


Community Remembers Former Mayor Paul Karnes
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 10, 2012, 15:33

David “Paul” Karnes, 75, who passed away on Saturday, was more than just a former mayor of the city he called home.

According to Clint Strong, City Manger of Hopewell from 1977 to 2000, Karnes was “Mr. Hopewell.”

He was involved in almost every aspect of Hopewell, from city council to civic clubs. First and foremost, he was remembered by many as a friend.

“Paul was just a dear friend,” Riley Ingram, R-62, said. “Paul and I go all the way back to our teenage years.”

Ingram said that everyone liked and respected Karnes.

“I never in my entire life heard anyone say anything bad about him,” Ingram said. “And I never in my life heard Paul say anything bad about anyone. He was a true gentleman.”

To some he was a mayor, a board member, a chairman or councilor, but to Judith Karnes, he was a husband.

“Paul just loved Hopewell,” Judith said. “He was born and bred here. He never left.”

Karnes served the city of Hopewell for over two decades. He was vice-mayor from 1988 until 1990 and mayor from 1992 to 1994. During his years in public office, Karnes helped shape some of Hopewell’s current leaders, including vice-mayor, Wayne Walton.

“He was very well respected, very consistent person,” Walton said. “He was very detailed. He always had the best interests of the city in mind.”

Karnes helped start the Friends of the Lower Appomattox RIver organization and appointed Walton, who is now the chairman of the group, to a position on its board.

“He was very interested in getting FOLAR started,” Walton said.

Strong, who worked with Karnes for many years, said Karnes had a deep love for the city.

“He was real Hopewell,” Strong said. “He loved Hopewell. He was also a great historian...he was a collector of history. He knew everybody in the city.”

In addition to serving on city council for 24 years, Karnes also served as a member of Hopewell Kiwanis Club from 1968 to 2012. He was a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Historic Hopewell Foundation, and the John Randolph Foundation, a founding member of the Hopewell Twinning Association and a life member of the Hopewell Jaycees and Junior Chamber International.

“He was an all-around real Hopwellian, the salt of the Earth,” Strong said.

Strong said Karnes was an outstanding mayor and council member. He also said Karnes was a man of his word.

“He was a leader in Hopewell,” Strong said. “We were blessed to have his services for so many years. We are grateful for all he’s done for us.”

Ingram also said Karnes worked hard for the community while he served on city council and as mayor.

“If you needed anything and asked him for help he would definitely give it a try,” Ingram said.

Judith said Paul loved seving on all the boards he participated in during his lengthy career as a public servant and involved resident.

“That was his hobby, that’s why he did all those things,” Judith said. “...Some people have golf, some people have tennis, his was belonging to civic groups and trying to do something good for other people.”

Karnes was also very involved in his church, First United Methodist in Hopewell, where he served on the Board of Trustees. Pastor Mike Browder said he had a positive effect on the lives of many.

“He knew everybody and everybody knew him,” Browder said. “He did so much for so many people in the city.”

Browder said even though Karnes spent many years as an elected official, he kept a very unique quality.

“I never met an elected official that nobody had anything bad to say about him,” Browder said.

Karnes’s legacy and service to the community will not soon be forgotten.

“He was a real ambassador for the entire Tri-Cities area. He’s going to be missed,” Ingram said.

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